Tips for Staying Hydrated This Summer

Woman and Child Drinking Water

Beat the heat and enjoy your favorite outdoor activities safely with these tips for staying hydrated this summer.

The summer heat is on, and Vermonters are outside as much as possible, enjoying their favorite warm-weather activities. While summer temperatures in the Green Mountains don’t usually rise to dangerous levels — like they do in other parts of the country — it is still important for Vermonters to take steps to remain safe in the heat.

One of the best precautions you can take is staying hydrated. Drinking enough water helps you regulate your body temperature and keep your organs working like they should. Other benefits of good hydration include keeping joints well lubricated, better brain performance, and improved digestion.

If you don’t drink enough water and become dehydrated, you can have symptoms like:

  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Trouble urinating
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Constipation

To help you prevent dehydration and get the most out of summer, in this article we’ll discuss how much water you should drink and give you tips for increasing your water consumption.

How Much Should You Drink?

You’ve probably heard of the recommendation that adults should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. That equals 64 fluid ounces or half a gallon. 

However, that recommendation is just a general starting point. Some people may do fine drinking fewer than eight glasses of water a day, and others may need more. You should set your water intake goal depending on your individual needs and activity levels. Talking to your health care provider can help you determine what your needs are, especially if you have a chronic condition like diabetes or heart disease.

Factors to keep in mind regarding water intake include:

  • Activity level: If you are sweating a lot because of strenuous work or recreation, you’ll need to consume more water to replace fluid lost by sweating.
  • Climate: If the weather is hot or humid, it will make you sweat more and you’ll need to drink additional fluids to maintain hydration.
  • Age: People who are 65 or older have a higher risk of dehydration. Older people don’t carry as much water in their bodies and may need to drink more fluids to stay healthy.
  • Illnesses: If you experience vomiting or diarrhea, it can cause you to lose fluids and you’ll need to drink more to replace it. If you have a condition like heart failure, which causes the body to retain fluid, you may need less fluids.
  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding: People who are pregnant or are breastfeeding may need to consume more water to stay hydrated.

Once you’ve considered your needs, set a goal of how much water to drink daily. Then track your progress in reaching the goal. If you are consistently falling short, consider the tips below for how to drink more water each day.

How do you know if you are drinking enough water? If you don’t feel thirsty and your urine is clear or light yellow, you are probably consuming enough fluids. If you have dark-colored urine, are urinating less than usual, or not at all, it’s a sign that you are dehydrated and need to drink more. Other signs that your fluid intake is too low include:

  • Hard stools or constipation
  • Dry, dull skin
  • Dry mouth, difficulty swallowing
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches

Tips to Drink More Water

If you want to increase your daily water intake, here are some things you can do:

  • Improve your water. Consuming more water each day can be difficult if it has a bad taste or odor. If you have municipal water, consider installing an activated carbon filter that removes chlorine taste and smell from your tap water. Another option is getting a filter pitcher and keeping it full. Also get a water bottle with a built-in filter that you can refill when you are away from home.
  • Add flavors. Switch it up by adding fruit flavors to your water, such as lemons, limes, and oranges. Other flavor ideas include cucumber, watermelon, raspberries, and strawberries. There are fruit infuser pitchers and water bottles available that make adding flavors easier. If you want to use fruit powders or liquids, look for ones that don’t contain added sugars, artificial sweeteners, or other additives. 
  • Set a reminder. Set a timer on your phone or watch to drink a glass of water periodically throughout the day. For example, set a reminder to drink a glass of water each hour of your workday.
  • Use an app. There are many apps available for smartphones that notify you when it’s time to drink water and track your daily consumption. 
  • Link it to an activity. An easy way to remember to drink a glass of water is to link it to a routine activity. For example, drink a glassful when you get up in the morning, with every meal, and after you use the bathroom.
  • Take it with you. Fill up a water bottle at home and bring it with you when you go out. Take sips during your daily commute or while running errands.
  • Make it a fun competition. Challenge family members or friends to increase their water intake with you and see who meets their goal most often.
  • Eat foods with high water content. In addition to drinking more water, you can eat fruits and vegetables that are high in water content. Those include lettuce, celery, zucchini, watermelon, cantaloupe, and melon.

If you have children, some ways to get them to drink more water include:

  • Buy child-size water bottles that are easier for them to hold and drink from. Teach them how to refill their water bottles from the sink faucet or a water dispenser.
  • Reward them when they finish the water in their bottle.
  • Infuse their water with fruit flavors. One fun way to do this is to make flavored ice cubes and add the flavored cubes to their water glass. Another idea is to use frozen fruit instead of ice in water glasses.
  • Be a role model. Set a good example for your children by letting them see you drink more water daily, and they’ll be more likely to do the same. 

Hydration During Exercise

When you are exercising or playing sports, you lose more water through sweating than you do when you’re less active. So, you should plan on upping your water intake accordingly.

The American Council on Exercise guidelines are:

  • Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water two to three hours before you start exercising.
  • Drink 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes prior to exercise or during warm-up.
  • Drink 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during your exercise.
  • Drink at least 8 ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after you finish. 

To know how much you should drink to replace the water lost during a workout, weigh yourself before and after you exercise. It’s recommended that you drink 16 to 24 ounces of water for each pound of body weight lost after exercising. 

Remember that these are general guidelines, and you may want to adjust them to your specific situation and needs.

When to Include Electrolytes

You may have seen electrolyte or sports drinks on the store shelves and wondered if these should be part of your fluid consumption.

Electrolytes are minerals which include sodium, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphate, and chloride. These minerals, which help your body function normally, can be lost when you sweat. They can also be lost because of vomiting or diarrhea.

Most of the time, electrolyte drinks are not necessary. They can be helpful for people who’ve been exercising intensely for a long time (more than an hour) or when you’ve been very active in extremely hot or humid conditions. Electrolyte drinks may also be helpful for people who’ve been sick and experienced prolonged sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea.

You should be aware that some commercial electrolyte drinks have high levels of sugar and sodium, and contain artificial ingredients. There are more natural ways to get electrolytes, including drinking coconut water or maple water. Other fluids that contain minerals like magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus are fruit juices and cow’s milk.

You can make your own electrolyte drinks at home to replenish minerals lost through sweating. Create a smoothy made from fruits or vegetables high in electrolytes, including oranges, bananas, avocados, spinach, and kale. There are also many recipes available online to make your own electrolyte water.      

Bottoms Up

We hope this article helps you stay better hydrated during your activities this summer. Remember to add some fresh Vermont-grown fruit to your water for a burst of flavor and be sure to bring your favorite water bottle with you on outings. Bottoms up and cheers to your good health!