Proper Hydration: For Summertime and Beyond

Getting the proper amount of hydration is not only important in the summer months, but throughout the year as well.  Water is one of the single most important elements in our body.  It regulates our body temperature, helps our digestion and even provides a cushiony barrier around our organs.  Those who participate in regular exercise know how vital it is to be properly hydrated for performance purposes as well.   At the microscopic level, water helps get nutrients in and out of our cells and after just several days without it, we would cease to survive.Therefore it’s important to understand the correct amount of water to have onboard, the signs of dehydration, and a few strategies to ensure you are properly hydrated in any weather.

How Much?

Hydration can come from the beverages we drink (80%) as well as the food we eat (20%).  It is recommended in total that women consume 2.7 liters (91oz) of fluid through a combination of beverages and food and men 3.7 liters (125 oz) in the same manner.  If you are exercising, especially in hot weather, your needs are even greater.  In just an hour of exercise, you could potentially lose around a quart of water!  At that rate, it’s easy to understand how dehydration can creep in.  Here are some exercise hydration tips:  

  • Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water two hours before the start of exercise.
  • Drink 7 to 10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise.
  • Drink 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after exercise

Of course, these are just recommendations. Other factors influence your fluid loss during exercise such as higher temperatures or workout intensity. Additionally, men sweat more than women and larger people sweat more than those who are smaller.  Also, would you believe that the well-trained athlete sweats more than the average person? It’s because the body of an athlete is very efficient at cooling itself down and sweats more as a result.

Swimming in the summertime can be great way to cool down.  However, a common misconception is that swimmers are kept cool by the water and as a result don’t require as much hydration.  The truth is that swimmers as well as children splashing around in the pool sweat more and are also in danger of dehydration.  So ensure you keep drinking water even if you are cooling off in the water.

Signs of Dehydration

How do you know if you or someone else is in danger of dehydration? In the beginning there is simple thirst.  Most of the time we could easily ignore this sign which eventually turns into flushed skin, higher body temperatures, exhaustion, and increased difficulty to perform simple exercises.  If you don’t get water soon after these symptoms, you will experience increased weakness, dizziness, heavy breathing and finally pass out. 

Your Best Strategy

It’s easy to avoid the threat of dehydration by simply sipping water throughout the day.  Remember that our hydration comes from the foods we eat as well so choosing foods with higher water content such as melons, soups, leafy greens, and even tomatoes is a great idea.

Flavored waters and other beverages such as sports drinks can contribute needed fluids but if weight loss is your goal, beware of the hidden calories some of these contain.  Also, if you are drinking beverages that contain caffeine and/or alcohol, know that these are both diuretics meaning that they cause the body to lose more fluids which can undermine your hydration efforts.

Being aware of your fluid intake will not only keep you well hydrated, but may also give you a sense of fullness which will certainly help your weight loss efforts.

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