WHEN ASTRONOMERS LOOK through their telescopes for life elsewhere in the universe, they’re mostly looking for planets that might have water. Without it, life—at least, as we know it—simply can’t exist.

What goes for planets goes even more so for our bodies. Water is the vehicle that carries necessary stuff like oxygen and fuel to all our cells, and helps flush out byproducts our bodies need to get rid of. Water lubricates and cushions our joints, and helps keep our temperature in that happy zone where the body works right. It makes up the chemical soup by which our nerves send one another signals.

For all these functions to take place, we must constantly renew our body’s supply of water. But how much do we need, and how should we get it? Here’s everything you need to know about this vital life essential.

Water is the building block of life as we know it, and you should be proactive about keeping yourself hydrated even when you aren’t training or being active. The Mayo Clinic has found that an average daily water intake for a man is about three liters. But hydration isn’t the only benefit you’ll experience from drinking that much—your general health should improve as well. Here’s how:

1) Water consumption helps you tolerate more pain

Dismissing water from your daily diet can lead to some obvious conditions like fatigue, but have you heard of this one yet? That’s right, according to research published in the journal Psychophysiology, gulping down the liquid beverage can actually help sustain your tolerance to pain. For the study, 17 healthy male participants were put through two tests: one in which they regularly consumed the clear liquid, and the second which required neglecting the beverage for 24 hours. After each test, the researchers dunked the partcipants’ feet in ice-cold water (0-3°) for a maximum of four minutes. They discovered that when the males were in the “dehydrated state,” their inclination to yank away their toes was far more greater than when they were fully fueled with water. Meaning: Their perception and sensitivity to pain was significantly higher when deprived of water. Consider the tactic next time you try recovering with an ice bath. Or better yet, up your H2O intake in general. I mean, who wouldn’t want to tough out pain more than the next guy?