When we think of summer, we often think of baseball games, hiking, golfing and a number of other outdoor activities. With all that time spent outside, you have a higher risk of dehydration and heatstroke during summer than other times of the year.
Did you know water makes up approximately 50-60 percent of your body weight and every system in the body relies on water to function properly? Most people don’t realize how quickly dehydration can occur in high temperatures. When you’re in a hot environment, your body’s thirst response is delayed. This means that by the time you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. The good news is heatstroke and dehydration are 100 percent preventable by following a few easy tips:
- Almost any fluid will keep your body hydrated; however, some are better than others. Choose beverages without calories, caffeine or carbonation as your primary source of hydration. Soft drinks are not appropriate before, during or after exercise as they take longer to absorb and can cause abdominal cramping, nausea or bloating. Alcohol isn’t a good choice for fluid, either, because it increases the risk of dehydration.
- Be proactive about staying hydrated. Most individuals need at least 8-10 cups of fluid a day. If you’re planning to participate in an outdoor activity, focus on staying well-hydrated 24-36 hours prior to the event.
- If you’re preparing for an outdoor activity, be sure to drink 1½ to 2½ cups of water 2-3 hours before the event and then another two cups about 15 minutes before starting the activity.
- Stay on top of hydration during any activity or prolonged periods of being outdoors. Drink ¾ to one cup of fluid every 15 minutes during activity.
- Choose your fluid wisely. For activities lasting less than 60 minutes, water is the best choice. For high-intensity activities (e.g., running, soccer, basketball) lasting longer than 60 minutes or activities with multiple exercise sessions in one day (e.g., training camps, swim meets, tennis tournaments), a non-carbonated sports drink would be ideal. Sports drinks provide an energy boost and are designed to rapidly replace fluids and electrolytes.
- Keep in mind you can get liquids from foods too. Load up on fruits and vegetables, which are about 80-90 percent liquid. Not only do these foods provide antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, but they help keep you hydrated.
Even after following these tips, watch for signs of dehydration, which include dark urine, dry mouth, extreme thirst, fatigue, headache, confusion and dizziness.