Humans and water are inseparable. We drink it, work with it, exhale it, and play with it. The human body can only last mere days without it. It has been a source of joy, comfort, and inspiration for centuries. In so many ways, water easily influences our overall health. Constrained to cups and faucets, it’s easy to forget that water is–quite literally–a wellspring of life. Let’s dive in!

Swimming is an excellent form of exercise. Proper strokes and kicks are all relatively symmetrical, and water counteracts gravity in a way that air does not. Swimming is a low-impact way to work out your entire body at once! The necessary breath-holding also boosts cardiovascular health.

Physiologically speaking, just being in water is good for you. In Blue Mind, Dr. Nichols details the way the body relaxes in response to water. James Nestor’s fascinating book Deep (available through SearchOhio) mentions that the simple act of splashing water on your face can actually decrease your heart rate!

I wouldn’t recommend drinking seawater or pool water, but proper hydration is also key to a healthy life. Nichols writes that dehydration can “decrease reaction times in working memory, lower alertness and concentration, and increase fatigue and anxiety in adults.” The human body is over 60% water; it’s no wonder that we need to stay well-watered!

Technical things aside, water is just so much fun. Canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, jet skis, sail boats, surfboards, and snorkels allow us to experience the all the joy and energy water has to offer. From jumping in a sprinkler to white water rafting, from bubble baths to ocean cruises, there are countless ways to enjoy being in, on, and around water.

Clearly, water is vital to our health. But between insufficient infrastructure and industries that harm the environment, millions of people around the world do not have access to clean water. Just as we must take care of our bodily health, it is important to attend to the health of our Earth. Water is everywhere, inside and out, connecting us all.

We can’t all be fearless freedivers or gold-medalist swimmers, but we can all make an effort to be more aware of the water that’s in and around us. Linger at the sink for a while the next time you wash your hands. Sit quietly somewhere with a good view of a lake, river, or ocean. Be grateful and mindful of this life-giving resource. Go drink some water.