If you're physically active in the heat, it's important to be mindful of hydrating yourself properly. Outside temperatures raise our core body temperature, so just think how much more our body temperature is raised when we're exercising in the heat. Our body can often mimic the feeling of hunger when in the beginning stages of dehydration. You may be waiting too late if you are only drinking water after having a parched mouth or dry lips.
Recognize the common signs of dehydration:
- Dry mouth
- Dark-colored urine or decreased urine output (note that some supplements/vitamins will discolor urine
- Sleepiness or tiredness
It's easy to sweat off a few pounds during exercise in the heat. You may want to consider weighing yourself before and after workouts to determine how much sweat or fluid loss is incurred during exercise. You'll want to make sure you drink about 2 1/2 cups of water for every pound of weight lost during exercise.
Why does our body need water?
- Removes waste from your body
- Softens stools
- Improves and enhances mental function
- Carries nutrients, oxygen and glucose to the cells giving you energy
- Helps strengthens muscles
If you're struggling to get enough fluids throughout the day, consider buying a portable water bottle to stay hydrated at all times. Using a smart phone device or vibrating watch to prompt "water breaks" can also be a helpful way to train yourself into a hydration routine. Water can flavored naturally by steeping fresh slices of fruit or herbs in a pitcher of ice water; freezing cubes of 100% fruit juice or sugar-free drink mixes can also provide flavor to your water throughout the day.
Thankfully, drinking fluids does not have to be our sole form of staying hydrated. Having fresh fruit such as watermelon and citrus fruits with a high water concentration can be a nice hydrating treat during the hot summer. Salads with wonderful refreshing crisp lettuce and water-rich broccoli can also enhance your hydration. Dairy products, such as yogurts and milk, have a high fluid content (85-89% water) that can provide a nutritious way to stay hydrated as well! Be sure to avoid beverages with high concentrations of sugar, alcohol, or caffeine, as these will counteract your hydrating efforts due to their diuretic properties.
Dehydration during these hot summer months can be dangerous in combination with chronic health conditions. Individuals with kidney disease, congestive heart failure and other conditions may have restrictions on fluid intake. If you have concerns about your daily fluid intake, be sure to speak with your doctor or other healthcare provider.