Summertime is when we need to replenish water in our bodies at a much faster rate than the rest of the year. We lose a lot of water due to higher temperatures and accelerated activities during warmer months.
An average person’s lean body mass contains 70 to 75 percent water, and fatty areas contain much less: about 10 percent to 40 percent water. Because of increased muscle mass, men and athletes of both genders contain more water than those with proportionately lower muscle and higher fat, such as non-athletic women, the overweight and the more mature.
For optimum health and a sense of well being, daily water intake really must be balanced with losses to maintain optimum total body water or your ability to function and overall health may be compromised.
Once you start feeling thirsty, you’ve probably lost about 1 percent of your body water and are starting to become dehydrated. With a 2 percent water loss, you could experience serious fatigue and cardiovascular impairments. It’s important to note that individual fluid needs differ depending on your sweat rate, the environmental temperature, your clothing, humidity and other factors.
Katherine Tallmadge of livescience.com offers some tips to keep your body hydrated this summer:
– Drink enough water to prevent thirst. This is important. Train your mind to become aware and quit ignoring your body signaling its need for water.
– For short-duration (less than 60 minutes), low-to-moderate-intensity activity, water is a good choice to drink before, during and after exercise.
– Anytime you exercise in extreme heat or for more than one hour, supplement water with a sports drink that contains electrolytes and 6 percent to 8 percent carbohydrates. This prevents “hyponatremia” (low blood sodium), which dilutes your blood and could also lead to serious impairment or worse.
– Begin exercise well hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids the day before and within the hour before, during and after your exercise session.
– Avoid alcohol the day before or the day of a long bout of exercise and always skip exercising with a hangover.
– To determine your individualized need for fluid replacement: During heavy exercise, weigh yourself immediately before and afterwards. If you see an immediate weight loss, you’ve lost valuable water. Drink 3 cups of fluid for every pound lost; use this figure to determine the amount of water (or sports drink) you’ll need before and during your next exercise session to prevent these losses in the future.
Men need a little more because they tend to be larger on average and naturally have more muscle mass — which holds water better than fatty tissues. Of course, pregnant women and nursing mothers need more water as well. If this amount seems like too much to you, it’s a bad sign. It actually breaks down to just four to eight sips of water per hour, but remembering to drink it can be hard.
Need some ways to trick yourself into drinking more water this summer? Try these suggestions from Patrick Allen of lifehacker.com:
– Hide it in your daily routine. Put a bottle or container of water at your desk and take a couple of sips every 15 minutes or so. Using a good, sturdy water bottle so you can mark your goals on the side as a guide to drinking the water you need during that period of time.
– Get in the habit of drinking a glass of water before or after awakening, showering, hand washing, dining or snacking.
– Set your smart phone to send reminders of when you need to drink water. By creating a few alarm reminders throughout the day and chugging a glass of plain old tap water, you can meet your hydration goals.
– Eat your water. These foods are high in water content and can help you reach your water consumption goals. To snack on throughout the day: cucumber, lettuce, celery, radishes, tomatoes, bell peppers, cauliflower, watermelon, spinach, strawberries, broccoli, grapefruit, apricots, cherries, grapes or zucchini.
Budge Collinson is a renowned exercise and nutrition expert. Not only does he offer tips on hydration, he also recommends easy and tasty options to help you beat the heat:
- Heat Wave Foods – Eat nutrient and water dense foods like salads, berries, and other fruits (oranges, bananas, pears) and veggies (tomatoes, celery, spinach). They are easy to digest, water based and can replace electrolytes.
- See Some Sea Salt – This one may be hard to believe, if you are outside too much … sea salt will help you. A teaspoon of sea salt is great for maintaining essential sodium levels when excessive sweating occurs. Contrary to popular belief, sea salt is actually relatively low in sodium and contains a complete array of trace minerals.
- Pass on the Caffeine – Minimize diuretics such as coffee, common energy drinks and alcoholic drinks as they all contribute to vital water loss leading to dehydration and fatigue.
- Cool (Not Cold) Water – Drinking cool, not cold, water can enhance absorption. Six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water is a base of what an active individual should consume.
Be good to your body this Summer with proper hydration. It’s a simple habit that will serve you well for the rest of your life!
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