It is important to stay hydrated, especially during the summer months when the temperature is rising. Water makes up about 60% of your body weight. Most people have been told to drink 6-8 glasses of water per day; actually, the amount of water you need depends on many factors, such as air temperature, age, exercise and medical conditions. The Institute of Medicine recommends 13 cups of fluid per day for men and 9 cups of fluid per day for women. Beverages, such as milk, juice and water can contribute to your daily fluid intake. On average, food contains about 20% water. However, certain foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are up to 90% water!
To make sure you are getting enough water during the day, try to stay on top of it and drink before you start to feel thirsty. Keep a water bottle with you and be sure to finish it by the end of the day. If you don’t like plain water, you can add a slice of lemon or add a sugar-free sweetener. Another good tip is to drink water when you are feeling hungry. Your body often mistakes hunger for thirst, and drinking water will help you to feel full if you are trying to lose weight as well.
Be careful not to drink too much water, as it can lead to hyponatremia (low serum sodium levels). This is more common in athletes who participate in long-distance events, such as marathons, and do not replace the electrolytes that are lost during sweating.
If you plan on participating in moderate to high-intensity exercise, follow these guidelines from The American Council on Fitness:
- Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours before you start exercising.
- Drink 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes before you start exercising or during your warm-up.
- Drink 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise.
- Drink 8 ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise.
What about sports drinks? Drinking water is usually sufficient unless you are exercising at a high intensity for more than an hour. Then, you need to replace the electrolytes you have lost, and a sports drink is appropriate.
Be sure to drink enough water to prevent dehydration this summer.