Summer is here! The sun is shining, the air is hot and like most people you’re probably spending a lot of your free time enjoying the outdoors. It is important to stay hydrated year-round, but it is especially important in the summer time. Lack of proper hydration, during hot summer days can lead to severe and potentially fatal injuries/illnesses, such as heat stroke, low blood volume shock, urinary tract and kidney problems, even seizures. We’ve gathered some information to help you learn how to stay properly hydrated this summer!
How much water do you need?
What does being well hydrated mean? “The amount of water a person needs depends on climatic conditions, clothing worn and exercise intensity and duration,” says John Batson, M.D, a sports medicine physician with Lowcountry Spine & Sport in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
The Food and Nutrition Board at the federal Institute of Medicine offers an estimate on a healthy balance of water for adult men and women. It suggests men have about 3.7 liters daily. That’s about 15, 8-ounce glasses. Women should have about 2.7 liters, or 11 glasses.
According to the American Heart Association, A person who perspires heavily will need to drink more than someone who doesn’t. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, may also mean you need to drink more water. People with cystic fibrosis have high concentrations of sodium in their sweat and also need to use caution to avoid dehydration. And some medications can act as diuretics, causing the body to lose more fluid.
Thirst isn’t the best indicator that you need to drink. “If you get thirsty, you’re already dehydrated,” Batson said.
Batson said the easiest thing to do is pay attention to the color of your urine. Pale and clear means you’re well hydrated. If it’s dark, drink more fluids.
If you want to know exactly how much fluid you need, Batson recommends weighing yourself before and after exercise, to see how much you’ve lost through perspiration. It’s a particular good guide for athletes training in the hot summer months.
“For every pound of sweat you lose, that’s a pint of water you’ll need to replenish,” Batson said, adding that it’s not unusual for a high school football player, wearing pads and running through drills, to lose 5 pounds or more of sweat during a summer practice.
Not sweating during vigorous physical activity can be a red flag that you’re dehydrated to the point of developing heat exhaustion.
Ways To Help Yourself Stay Hydrated
Invest in a new water bottle
Just as buying a new planner might encourage you to stay more organized, or buying new sneakers might motivate you to run more, investing in a new reusable water bottle might remind you to drink more water! If you do a quick google or amazon search for water bottles, you will find there are about a million different kinds, ranging from simple to elegant. If you are really struggling to remember to drink your water we recommend finding a “motivational” water bottle, that has a drinking schedule on it.
Track your water intake
Try using a fun water tracking app like Plant Nanny- Plant Nanny combines health with fun to remind you to drink water regularly. A cute plant keeps you company every day by living in your phone. Plant Nanny keeps track of how much water you drink — each glass also waters the app’s plants so you both can thrive!
Alternatively, you could create or download a printable water tracking sheet to make sure you’re keeping up with your healthy habits.
Drink better-tasting water
If “plain” water isn’t doing it for you, or if you just want to try something new you can start infusing water! We recommend adding fresh fruits, herbs, vegetables and even spices to your water to amp up the flavor. Some classic add-ins are lemon, lime, orange, strawberries or cucumbers. If you really want to get creative with it, try out some of the flavor combos below!
Cucumber + lime + strawberry + mint
Lemon + raspberry + rosemary
Orange + blueberry + basil
Lime + ginger root + basil
Watermelon + honeydew + mint
Cucumber + mint + jalapeno
Lemon + thyme
Orange + hibiscus + star anise
Orange + cinnamon + cardamom + cloves
Pear + fennel
Get some water through food
Fortunately, lots of tasty summer foods—particularly those that seem juicy—are hydrating. Consider watermelon, stone fruits, and cucumbers, all of which boast a high water content, when you head to the beach. Cherry and grape tomatoes are easy to pack, and they pack in the hydration, too.
Soda and coffee like most things are fine in moderation however they are diuretics, meaning they actually increase the excretion of water from your body, so you are essentially losing hydration. If you are craving something bubbly, we recommend reaching for sparkling water or seltzer. Studies have shows carbonated water is just as hydrating as non-carbonated, just make sure the sparkling water you are drinking doesn’t have any added sugar!