The Hows and Whys of Hydration
Water is the elixir of life. You can survive for over a month without food, but a week without water is fatal. We take water for granted in First World countries; millions of people worldwide struggle every day for access to clean, fresh water.
Funny enough, many people here in the United States struggle to meet their suggested daily water intake. With access to sweetened sodas, energy drinks, and those delicious on-the-go frappuccinos, it’s understandable if you’re bored with “plain” water. There’s no reason not to add a little flair to your water, especially if it means you’ll stay hydrated.
The formula to staying hydrated isn’t a complicated equation, but it does vary from person to person. It’s important to replace any fluid that’s lost throughout the day and night, and those variables can change drastically day-to-day and person-to-person. If you’re exercising in extreme heat or humidity, you’re going to lose fluid more rapidly than if you’re chilling at the movies. The color of your urine is a good way to determine your hydration status. If your urine is pale and straw-colored, you’re adequately hydrated. If it’s dark, like the color of apple juice, you’re low on fluids.
Sweat It Out
Dehydration can occur even if you’re not sweating. In extreme heat and cold, your body loses fluid very quickly without sweating at all. You may not realize it, but you even sweat when you’re swimming! Spending the day frolicking in the pool isn’t a preventive measure. Athletes need to be even more aware of dehydration risks. Athletes tend to sweat more overall than people who aren’t as physically fit, and they may push themselves longer and harder, causing even greater fluid losses.
Drinking is the ONLY way to rehydrate. Pouring water over your head or showering to cool off are only superficial – you need to actually drink the water for your body to replenish its stores.
Some early signs of dehydration include:
• Flushed skin
• Premature fatigue
• Increased body temperature
• Faster breathing and pulse rate
Try adding some flavor to your water to get you excited to drink it! You can create an at-home version of those expensive store-bought flavored waters for almost no cost!
Add any of the following to your water:
• A twist of citrus! Try lemon or lime or even a slice of orange. Throw in a few raspberries for extra flavor and color.
• Small pieces of fruit, like honeydew or pineapple.
• A slice of cucumber with a few gently crushed mint leaves (“bruising” them releases more flavor).
Don’t let dehydration slow you down this summer. Be sure to drink whenever you’re thirsty. If you’re engaged in physical activity in the heat, be sure to hydrate adequately before starting, take frequent hydration breaks to top off your fluid reserves, and continue to keep it up after you’re done. Water doesn’t have to be boring. Dress it up and drink it up!