Bottled Water Vs. Tap Water : Which is better?

Water is arguably the most essential nutrient for mankind’s survival. It is as important to the human existence as air itself. Water plays a plethora of roles in the body such as cleaning out toxic waste, aiding in digestion, strengthening the immune system, weight loss and increased energy to name a few. Fortunately for many of us in the western world region, we have unlimited access to water which is certainly a good thing.

However, in recent years, several debates have emerged as to what type of water is the best. Most water drinkers, and an overwhelming majority of fitness enthusiasts, drink bottled water. Poland Springs, Dasani, Smart Water and Aquafina are some of the top brands of water that grace the floors of fitness centers. Not too many people drink tap water for fear of contamination and uncleanliness. In fact there are perceptions among water drinkers that tap water shouldn’t be consumed at all and can cause harm to the body.

So is tap water really unsafe for us?

Well, not exactly.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  is the United States Federal Agency that regulates water in America. This means water goes through inspection for safety before it is run through pipelines to our homes. In 1974, the EPA passed the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) which stipulates that safe, drinking water must be inspected and made available to the public. According to the EPA, tap water, if regulated, is just as safe as bottled water. Although bottled water is regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), it isn’t any safer or cleaner than tap water. The mere thought that water is packaged and presented in a sealed bottle gives water drinkers the belief that it is superior to tap water. This doesn’t mean bottled water isn’t safe. The EPA regulates and monitors tap water just as strictly as the FDA does to bottled water.

If you’re indecisive about what type of water to drink, here are a few things to consider:

Geographical Area: Thanks in large part to their population, New York and San Francisco have some of cleanest water in the country. In fact most inner cities have clean water. However, rural areas and farming towns may not be so lucky. If you live in one of these area, contact your local water agency and have them come test your water. Dialing 311 and speaking with an operator may also provide some useful information about your town’s water supply. The EPA website has tons of information on how to assess the safety of your water.

Use A Filter When In Doubt: Water filters have made it easier to comfortably ensure that the tap water we drink is clean and purified. The primary objective of a water filter is to remove contaminants and harmful chemicals from tap water. Top brands like Brita even highlight the exact contaminants that are targeted during filtering. Some modern filters can actually be attached directly to your faucet so water quickly goes from unfiltered to filtered as it gushes out. Keep in mind that many bottled waters are in fact filtered tap water so you may be better off filtering your own water while saving money and plastic.

Know The Source Of Your Water: Most big cities get their tap water from a community public water system that is supported by the SDWA. However in some rural towns, water supply is drawn from private wells. It is important to know that the SDWA does not cover private wells and bottled water. If your town’s source of water is a private well, your water could be at risk for chlorine and other hazardous organic chemicals. Many houses built during or before the 1970s contain lead-containing pipes which could also contaminate the water in the house. In both of these cases, contact your local water agency and have them come run a water test.

Special Situations Call For Bottled Water: Some people with unique medical conditions are better off drinking bottled water. Cancer and HIV patients can be very sensitive to even the smallest contaminant from tap water, especially while on certain medications. Drinking tap water of even filtered can reduce the functionality of the immune system. If you’re one of these people, ask your doctor for the best option.

Simple ways to fix muscle aches and pains

I can almost certainly say with conviction that virtually every person I know has some type of body ache, discomfort, pain and/or inflammation. The fact of that matter is as impactful as exercise is on the body, it inevitably won’t prevent us from experiencing some sort of muscle ache or pain at some point in our lives. For the majority of us, the stress and demands of life, work, school, companionships, family time and even gym time will ultimately fatigue the body and cause it to function less optimally in most cases.

How many times have you or someone you know felt a back ache, shoulder tightness or hip discomfort and wondered where it came from? That’s because when muscles are stressed repeatedly via strength training, home chores, manual labor, prolonged seating to name a few, the deep fascia of muscle fibers (innermost muscles tissue that surround bones, nerves and blood vessels) become wound and tangled up and begins to limit movements which can affect range of motion. On the contrary, superficial fibers are what we stretch on the surface and body of the skin like a basic lying hamstring stretch for example.

Here are 4 ways to to permanently fix and cure your aches and pains:

1. Soft Tissue Work: If you don’t already include soft tissue work in your exercise program, you ought to. Foam rollers, lacrosse/tennis ball and deep tissue massages make up this elite category. I believe it is one of the most underestimated areas of body care and maintenance. Soft tissue work can be unpleasant. In fact, it isn’t pleasant at all. If you’ve ever used a foam roller or lacrosse/tennis ball on your self, you know the feeling I’m referring to. Though painful and uncomfortable, soft tissue work allows collagen fibers of those deep fascia to untangle and loosen up, thus promoting efficient blood flow in muscles. This in turn translates into warmer and more relaxed muscles and better mobility in the joints.

2. Stretching: We all need to stretch more. It’s as simple and blunt as that. It’s quite alarming how many seasoned fitness enthusiasts lack adequate flexibility (Don’t worry, I’m one of them!). Part of the problem is that when it comes to relieving stress and endorphins kicking in, stretching pales in comparison to traditional strength training and just ins’t considered “fun”. As a result, many of us do it infrequently and when we do, it’s quick and fast. Here’s the thing: Stretching may not yield the benefits of a barbell squat or bench press, it is a vital component for movement patterns. To move efficiently and effectively, we must stretch. Tendons connect muscles to bone so in order for a joint to function well, the muscles around it must be stretched. Passive and PNF stretching are the best types and can be done anytime. While it’s important to stretch the entire body, emphasis should be placed mostly on tight muscles.

3. Corrective Exercise Training: This has been one of the most controversial areas of fitness over the last several years. By definition, corrective exercise training is the fixing of imbalances, weaknesses and muscle pain via traditional and nontraditional methods of training. It has become a staple in many training programs and a mainstream component of fitness. Corrective exercises were originally designed to fix and correct muscular imbalances that affect movement patterns, fix injury-related pain and alleviate chronic muscle tightness.

I’m all for using corrective exercises when warranted. However, it appears many exercise enthusiasts & fitness professionals today design their programs strictly around corrective exercise and that bothers me. If the underlying issue has been corrected, why keep correcting? If you’re unable to hinge low enough in a squat, strengthening and activating your hip external rotators and stretching your hamstrings & adductors should be part of the corrective remedy. Once those areas are addressed, it’s time to squat. Many people continue to utilize corrective training even after the problem is addressed. I’m a proponent of corrective exercise training and I believe it has a place in fitness. But it shouldn’t be overused and definitely shouldn’t make up an an entire workout program. Regardless of the individual or training goals and objectives, compound movements should always take precedence. They’ve been tried and tested over time.

4. Progressively Overloading: Most of us know in order to continue to see results and yield dividends, we must continually add new challenges to out workouts, whether it be more resistance, less rest between sets, more sets and/or more reps. However some of us overload too soon, not allowing the body to adapt to the early demands. Progressive Overload, gradually adding resistance to strength exercises, must be approached steadily. Going from bench pressing 100 pounds in week 1 to 150 pounds in week 2 may be too much of an overload. The central nervous system gets a shock each time we exercise, which forces the muscles of the body to respond by getting strong and growing. However if the shock goes from a mild state to a more severe state, the joints and muscles panic at the arrival of an unexpected tension and that usually causes injury. Think of it as a first time driver who goes from driving at 55 mph in week 1 to all of a sudden 85 mph in the second week. It’s very likely that new driver will be not be comfortable at 85 mph in only his/her 2nd week of driving and may lose control of his/her vehicle. Whether you’re a newbie in the gym or a seasoned lifter who took a month off, always start with a mild to moderate intensity and progressively and wisely overload.