Technically the first day of Summer is June 21st, but we Texans break out the tank tops and crank up the AC around the end of February. Texas temperatures spell trouble for our thermometers, and no, I’m not referring your outrageous summer electricity bills: I’m talking about our internal body temperature, which can be just as costly. This post’s theme is dehydration, which is the not-fun phenomenon that happens when our body’s balance of water and electrolytes becomes inadequate for us to function properly. Or, to put it simply, when we lose more water than we’re taking in.
Lets begin with the tell-tall signs of “common or mild” dehydration:
2. Dry mouth
4. Dark urine
Sounds like the morning after a night on the town, right? Well, these same symptoms can occur during the day if you’re just plain dehydrated. For many of us who work out, run, walk, or do any activity that causes sweating, dehydration is the number one issue to be wary of during summer.
And it’s not just heat that sucks the water out of you: humidity plays a part. The body’s internal temperature is regulated through sweat. When it’s humid outside, our sweat does not evaporate as easily. This causes a blanket of heat to form on our skin, which in turn causes us to sweat more, which means we lose more water. How can we curb curb this vicious cycle of dehydration?
1. Drink plenty of water/electrolytes. How much you need is depended on several factors. For a baseline guide, men should drink about 13 cups of water a day, and women should drink about 9 cups.
2. Work out indoors during the heat of the day: save those outdoor runs for dusk or dawn
3. Stay away from 100% cotton clothes or outfits that will absorb moisture.
4. Never wear “sweat suits” to run in – most of us are not Rocky or professional boxers.
Mix it up
Because dehydration is directly linked to fluid intake, here are some recommended beverages to quench your thirst and to keep you from passing out. For starters, water should be your first choice of drink throughout your day: avoid soft drinks or alcohol if you’re going to be outdoors or working out at some point. Don’t worry, I won’t take away your coffee, but consider limiting yourself to two or three cups a day, at the most.
The next level of beverage would be electrolyte-infused drinks, such as Pedialyte, coconut water or electrolyte water. They’ll have adequate amounts of sodium and potassium, which are important to replace after a workout. If you plan on sweating a lot and working ultra hard, you can try sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade … but remember, you have to earn a sports drink: only drink them during high-intensity sweat sessions, otherwise they’re not worth the sugar that’s in them.
And, most importantly, make smart choices this summer and take care of yourselves!