Summer is a great time to step up your water intake. Days are warmer, and we tend to spend a lot of time outdoors exercising. But did you know that it’s important to maintain good hydration all year long?
Up to 60 percent of the human adult body is water. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to stay hydrated. Drinking enough fluids helps support your cells and organs, keeps your skin healthy, aids digestion regulates your body temperature, lubricates joints, helps keep your brain working at peak capacity, and more.
Most experts agree that six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day is adequate. However, if you know you’re going to be out in the heat or have a physically active day, you may want to increase your intake.
Hydration for Marathon Runners
Marathon runners should take special care to stay hydrated before, during, and after their race.
It’s critical to start a good hydration routine at least 48 hours before race day. A couple of hours before the race, drink 16 ounces of water or a sports or electrolyte drink. This will give your system enough time to absorb the fluids.
During the race, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests drinking 5 to 12 ounces of fluids every 15 to 20 minutes, if possible. Many marathons, such as the annual Whiskey Row Marathon in Prescott, have water stops along the course. Some runners carry their own water bottles, edible water pods, or water packs. You can experiment with your options well before the day of the race so that you can choose which option is best for you.
When the race is over, remember to hydrate regularly. The effects of dehydration can be felt hours after a race. Symptoms include fatigue, headache, muscle cramping, and dizziness. You can also check your urine after the race. If it is dark, it may be a sign that you need to drink more fluids.
For runners and non-runners alike, plain water isn’t your only option. Ramp up the flavor with fruits or vegetables such as lemons, berries, orange slices or cucumber slices. You may even want to invest in an inexpensive fruit-infuser water bottle.
Coffee or tea, especially herbal tea, can also be a substitute for some of your fluid intake. In addition, many foods such as watermelon, strawberries, cucumber, cantaloupe, lettuce, celery, peaches, and oranges have high water content and can provide some of your daily requirement. The key is to stay away from sugary beverages which can lead to weight gain and inflammation.
Hydration is for Everyone
Finally, as we age, it’s more important than ever to track how much fluid we’re taking in each day. Many older people don’t sense thirst as much as they did when they were younger, which can lead to dehydration. Symptoms may include fatigue, dizziness and/or confusion.
Here are a few easy ways to help increase your water intake each day:
- Choose a water bottle and always have it with you.
- Drink a glass of water after every bathroom break.
- Drink a glass of water before every meal.
- Use an app or ask technology to remind you to hydrate.
Regardless of your age, drinking enough water is key to staying healthy and functioning at your peak. You can discuss your specific needs with your healthcare provider, but in the meantime, pour yourself a tall one and drink up.
Submitted by Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center