Humans’ bodies are between 65%-70% water and over 70% of the planet’s surface is covered in water. It’s vital for our own wellbeing and for life as we know it on Earth yet many of us know little about it, except that we need it when we’re thirsty. Here are some incredible ways in which humble H2O can cure, heal and buoy us.
What Would Happen if You Didn’t Drink Water?
This eye-opening TED Talk shows how vital the right amount of water is. Water is essentially everywhere and our bodies are around 55-60% water. What role does it play and how much water do we really need to drink to stay healthy?
The Benefits of Wild Swimming
Swimming in cold water has incredible anxiety and depression-relieving benefits. It’s repetitive and meditative and can help people exist in the present in a very mindful, unfettered way thinking only about the ‘now’. Swimming in cold water can reduce uric acid levels which has been described as causing the body to ‘harden’, increasing its tolerance to stress. It also decreases the heart rate and blood pressure, inducing a feeling of calm. A 2000 study from Prague scientists found that cold water immersion boosts dopamine levels by 530%.
Water for Health
Water has myriad health benefits. Let’s overview some key ones. Water lubricates our joints and improves our bodies’ shock absorption capacities. Water carries oxygen, minerals and nutrients throughout our bodies and keeps our skin hydrated and healthy. Water regulates body temperature and blood pressure and helps the body remove its waste. Water can improve moods, increase concentration and boost performance during exercise. Last but not least, water can lessen the effects of a hangover following alcoholic excess.
Water for Healing
Many water sources in the world are said to bestow positive effects upon those who visit or bathe in them. This can vary from the calming and the restorative, to the more dramatic therapeutic and healing end of the spectrum. There’s the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France, Mexico’s sacred Ojo Caliente and the strikingly stepped pools of Turkey’s Pamukkale to name but three. Rich with salts and minerals and steeped in myth and mysticism, these liquid shrines are believed to ease pain, remove afflictions and cure illnesses. With thousands reporting positive change following their pilgrimages, ‘healing water’ tourism is big business.
Water for Recovery
Cold water immersion therapy (cryotherapy) involves taking a post-sport plunge into ice water. It’s common among athletes who say they recover faster and that it decreases muscle pain and soreness. The science behind these ice baths is that it can help reduce the tears in muscle fibres caused by sport, help flush out toxins like lactic acid, and help the healing process as circulation speeds up again once the person warms up. The routine has pros and cons – the ice bath jury is still out – but many world-class athletes swear by their post-event freeze. The placebo effect of a perceived faster recovery may be its own reward.
Water for Relaxation
The benefits of float tank relaxation are widely acknowledged. Suspended in the total peace of the tank, the logical side of the brain can let go and relax, slowing down to synchronise and reconnect with the creative side. The resultant dream-like state then floods the body with feel-good endorphins. In this weightless-seeming environment, the body can rest and recuperate, reducing blood pressure, heart rates and stress levels. With one hour in a float tank equating to several hours’ deep sleep, energy and creativity levels often flourish once out, making the deep relaxation of a float tank the perfect de-stressing activity for today’s busy world.
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