Thursday, May 7, 2015

Most Important This Time of Year: Dehydration

Keep Calm and Carry Water!
image: family outside drinking water from bottlesDehydration is no joke. We can live more than 60 days without food, but we can't survive more than a week without water, and even less than that in hotter climates. Water plays a crucial role—from blood flow, to healthy skin, to keeping organs working properly—and staying hydrated is essential. Here's what you should know:

What does dehydration look like?
The best way to recognize dehydration is to observe the color of your urine. While not true in all cases, for the most part, light to clear urine indicates proper water intake. Also, you should be urinating every 2 to 3 hours all day long, and getting up during the night to go is normal.

At the first signs of dehydration you might feel tired, cranky, moody or even have a headache near the end of the day. If it's a hot day and you stop sweating, your body temperature will also rise. In extreme cases, lack of water can reduce the amount of blood circulating in your body, creating fatally low blood pressure levels.

How much water is enough?
For children and teens: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 3-8 ounces of water every 20 minutes for children 9 to 12 and about 34-50 ounces per hour for adolescent boys and girls, more if playing or exercising.

For adults: The Institute of Medicine recommends that women drink around 9 cups of fluid per day and men 13 cups. This amount should be increased for overweight adults or those living in hotter climates.

For athletes: If you want to see an increase in performance and a decrease in fatigue, athletes should drink 16 ounces an hour prior to exercise, 4-8 ounces every 15 minutes during exercise, and another 16 ounces post-workout. If you're sweating, you're losing water at faster than normal rates and should be cognizant of replenishing fluid levels. Most importantly, water works equally as well as costly sports drinks.

Want to get more water into your life?
  • Get technical with apps like iDrated for iPhone and Aqualert for Android, which can not only track how much you drink, but also remind you to take a swig when you're on the go.
  • Purchase a personalized water bottle to help you form a lifelong good habit. Make sure it's portable and easy to use so you don't mind taking it with you throughout the day.
  • Add ice and a slice of lemon, lime or even cucumber to improve the flavor. Chilling the water with an ice cube or two also promotes fat loss.
  • Drink smaller portions over the course of a day, rather than all at once. And instead of coffee breaks, try water-cooler breaks!
  • Don't wait until you're thirsty to refresh yourself. By the time you feel thirsty, you may have already lost two or more cups of total body water.
Sources: WebMD, Mayo Clinic, Business Insider

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