Summer is a few days away, bringing with it plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures. Tons of outdoor activities and summer sports. Unfortunately, along with the summer fun comes the risk of dehydration for you, your families, your pets. I’m not just talking about a mild headache due to too much sun or a brief dizzy spell. When temperatures soar into the 90s and beyond, coupled with increased time and activities outdoors, the impact of dehydration can get serious and require much more than just gulping a few glasses of water to restore a proper level of hydration.
Most people know it’s important to drink water every day, and many know to increase water intake during hot summer months. Studies show that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. So, I have a mission with this blog: to return all my readers to a safe, healthy level of hydration. To help achieve this, let’s debunk some summer hydration myths.
Myth #1: I spend my summers in the swimming pool, surrounded by water. I’m fine. Time in the pool is exercise, and even though it’s hard to notice, your body sweats. You must drink water to replenish those lost fluids; being immersed in it is not the same as drinking it.
Myth #2: I’m not sweating a lot, so dehydration isn’t a concern. In fact, sweating less than usual can be a sign of dehydration, not an indication that you don’t need to replenish your fluids. For every pound you lose through sweating, you need to replenish your body with at least 16 ounces, or 2 cups, of water.
Myth #3: I spend most of my time in air conditioning, and when I am outdoors, I stay in the shade. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that “cool means hydrated.” When temperatures reach 90 degrees or above, even that one or two minutes you spend walking to your car or waiting for your hot car interior to cool down can affect your hydration levels. Even if the sun isn’t shining directly on you, the heat all around can zap those fluids right out of you.
Myth #4: If I start to feel hot or dizzy, I can just drink some water to bring me back to normal. While it is important to drink more water if you experience signs and symptoms of dehydration, gulping tons of water after the fact isn’t the best approach. “Preventative drinking” is the key. You should drink 15 to 20 ounces of water 1 to 2 hours prior to an average activity/exercise, another 8 ounces 15 minutes prior to your activity and then 8 more ounces every 15 minutes during your activity.
Myth #5: Staying adequately hydrated is costly. Avoiding dehydration costs no more than a reusable water bottle and is as simple as turning on your tap. Tap water remains the best source for hydrating the body, and with a reusable bottle, you can conveniently refill and replenish from almost anywhere.
Myth #6: I drink the recommended 8 cups of water a day, so I have nothing to worry about. You should drink at least 8 cups of water per day as a baseline, and then increase your water intake based on your exposure to higher temperatures and physical activity (see myth #4). Moreover, water intake needs vary based on a person’s age, sex, weight and other physical factors, so it’s important to know your own needs.
Myth #7: My body will tell me when I need to drink, and right now, I’m not thirsty. There are several signs that you may be dehydrated—thirst and dark urine being two. However, if you wait for the signs, you’re already on your way down a slippery slope. It’s important to drink continually throughout the day and before your body waves the red flag of thirst.
Myth #8: Once a person is dehydrated, it takes IV fluids to fix the problem. While trips to the ER are necessary in more serious instances, studies have shown that a mildly dehydrated man can return to a hydrated state 45 to 60 minutes after drinking about 32 ounces of water. The key here is to listen to your body and not fool around. If you feel that water intake isn’t helping your physical symptoms, contact a medical professional immediately.
Now that you know the facts, put them to use to ensure that you have a healthy, hydrated summer!