ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Illinois - Just in time for the long, hot days of summer, employees of the U.S. Army Sustainment Command here are being challenged to drink more water.

The 10-Day Water Reset Challenge officially began June 21, following a kickoff event held the day before, and runs through June 30. ASC employees taking the challenge are being asked to drink one-half ounce of water for every pound they weigh every day.

For example, an individual weighing 150 pounds would need to drink at least 75 ounces of water daily to meet the requirements of the challenge.

Those participating in this voluntary water challenge are free to drink other beverages, but not as substitutes: Only water counts toward the goal.

The Water Reset Challenge is being led by the U.S. Army Sustainment's G-1 (Human Resources) Wellness Division. Earlier this year, the Wellness Division sponsored a Fit Food Challenge designed to encourage healthier eating among ASC employees.

Both challenges are intended to highlight the Wellness Division's fiscal year 2018 theme: "Take Charge of Your Health." The theme reflects the division's goal of creating a healthier and - therefore more ready and resilient - workforce.

Employees of the U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command, which is headquartered at RIA, are also taking part in the 10-Day Water Reset Challenge.

ASC and JMC will track the number of employees taking part in the challenge, and the command with the highest percentage of participation will win a friendly competition for bragging rights. Employees from other organizations are welcome to follow the challenge and learn how they can use it to enhance health and wellness.

Participants in the water challenge receive clear 30-ounce plastic water bottles that include an insert where ingredients can be added to create water infusions. Infusion recipes were posted in the monthly newsletter published by the Wellness Division and were also distributed at a kickoff event held on June 20.

Lori Owens, a master resiliency trainer in the Wellness Division, said that the water challenge was based on research showing that many people do not stay sufficiently hydrated, especially during the warmer months of the year.

"Many of us drink a lot of liquid every day," she said, "but we don't drink a lot of water."

Soda pop, energy drinks and similar beverages contain sugar (both natural and artificial), corn syrup, natural and artificial colorings, and other ingredients that can add calories. Coffee and other beverages containing caffeine, and alcoholic beverages, can actually act as diuretics, meaning they draw more water out of your body than they add.

"Water, and water alone, is the best thing you can drink to meet your body's need for hydration," Owens said.

Hydration is essential because about two-thirds of your body weight is water. And think about this: About 75 percent of your brain is made up of water.

Dehydration becomes more of a problem in hot weather, and can lead to heat injuries and, in severe cases, even death. Encouraging Soldiers and other Army personnel to stay hydrated is part of the Army's "100 Days of Summer" safety campaign, and Owens noted that the water challenge was timed to be part of that campaign.

Owens tried the water challenge on herself, and said that it produced positive health benefits. She said that creating water infusions added flavor to the water she drank, while adding very little in the way of calories and extraneous ingredients.

Owens cautioned that individuals with kidney or heart conditions, or other health problems, should consult with a health care provider before taking the water challenge, or making any other change in lifestyle.

Here are some facts about water, and some of the benefits gained by drinking more water:

• Thirst is not an accurate indicator of your need for water; if you feel thirsty, you are already becoming dehydrated.
• When your body's store of water becomes depleted, water is drawn from places like your joints to where it is more needed, i.e. your brain. Therefore, drinking more water can help prevent and treat joint pain.
• Drinking more water can help you lose weight, by substituting water for beverages containing calories, by speeding your metabolism, and by making you feel less hungry. In addition, maintaining a steady intake of water can actually trigger your body to drain water stored in your hips and thighs, which reduces both weight and waist size.
• Drinking more water can help improve your skin tone.
• Water drains waste and toxins from your body, and can improve the function of your liver, kidneys, digestive system, and other organs.
• Increasing your intake of water will likely lead to more frequent trips to the bathroom, so be prepared. However, this need to go tends to diminish in about a week. Also, adding a small pinch of pink salt (not table salt) to your water can reduce bathroom trips, since this helps your cells absorb more of the water before it passes through you.
• Yes, you can drink too much water, or drink water too fast. This can lead to a condition called hyponatremia, caused by a dilution of your body's sodium level. While hyponatremia can lead to health problems and, in severe cases, even death, it is very rare. Health problems and deaths caused by dehydration are far more common.

For more information on the 10-Day Water Reset Challenge and other Wellness Division health initiatives, contact Lori Owens at (309) 782-4450 (Ext. 2-4450), e-mail lori.e.owens2.civ@mail.mil or Lauren Biswell at (309) 782-0695 (Ext. 2-0695), e-mail lauren.l.biswell2.civ@mail.mil .