Summer is just around the corner, and while we love the longer days, family BBQs and park picnics, we don’t always love those sticky, hot, humid days that have us cranking up the air conditioning before 9 a.m.
Summer’s warmer temperatures are a welcome reprieve, but they do bring some challenges in staying hydrated. The rising temps outside can lead to higher body temps, increasing the amount of fluids we need to keep us cool. This is especially true for those who spend a lot of their time outdoors in the summer and even truer for those who exercise outside. When it’s hot and humid, you are more at risk for dehydration, as sweat cannot evaporate as easily to bring your body temperature back down.
But just how much water do we really need?
We’ve all heard of the standard “six-to-eight cups per day,” but most people actually need more than that. Fluid requirements are generally based on weight, so men, women and children all need different amounts. Certain medical conditions such as heart and renal failure also can impact fluid requirements, as well as pregnancy and breastfeeding. In general, most women need 11-12 cups (88-96 ounces) of water per day and men 15-16 cups (120-128 ounces).
However, this includes the amount of fluid also provided by foods, so the actual amount of just water that is needed per day is closer to nine cups or 72 ounces per day for women, and 12 cups or 96 ounces for men.
A good way to tell if you are hydrated is to check the color of your urine throughout the day. Dark yellow urine means you should drink more. Clear urine means you are probably drinking a little too much. Pale yellow urine is just right. Your body will retain water if you are dehydrated and concentrate your urine, while it will expel excess fluid into your urine once you’re hydrated, diluting it.
So now that we know how much water to drink, the question is… do I really have to drink all that water? If plain water isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other fun, healthy and fresh ways to meet your daily fluid requirements. Establishing a healthy drinking routine is a good first step.
- Purchase a refillable water bottle to carry with you throughout the day. The constant visual of a water bottle helps remind you to drink often and establishes a new habit.
- Sip, don’t chug. Our bodies can only absorb so much fluid at once so aim to sip several times on the hour, every hour.
- Act like you’re at the spa and flavor your water with lemon, cucumber, fresh berries, mint, or orange slices. The added pop of flavor will make you forget you’re drinking plain water.
- If you prefer bubbles, try sparkling water, seltzer or club soda.
- Limit sweetened beverages, caffeine and alcohol as these all act as a diuretic. Try having one glass of water before and after your morning coffee to help balance you out.
- Try making your own iced tea from herbal or decaf teas.
- Load up on fresh fruits and veggies! Many are over 85% water, so they are excellent contributors to your total fluid intake. Some of the best options are cucumbers, zucchini, celery, tomatoes, watermelon, kiwi, broccoli, and strawberries. Who knew! Try a cold gazpacho soup or making homemade fruit popsicles.
Dehydration can wreak havoc on your body, causing fatigue, digestion issues, headaches and dizziness, and can even impact your mood, memory, and slow your exercise performance. So keep that water bottle and fruit cup close by, and be sure to drink up while enjoying that warm summer sun!