We all know what it’s like to be thirsty on a hot summer’s day. Unfortunately, by the time you actually feel thirsty you’re already dehydrated. Our bodies are 70% water, so dehydration is understandably uncomfortable. It causes dry mouth, headaches, fatigue, dizziness…but its effects are far-reaching and can potentially be life-threatening. Besides the risk of heat stroke, it also makes your heart work harder to pump blood through your body and puts unnecessary strain on this one-of-a-kind muscle.
Water is essential to your heart health.
Staying hydrated helps your heart pump blood more easily through blood vessels to your muscles, and it also helps those muscles work more efficiently.
So, how much water should you drink?
Everybody’s different, and a person’s water requirements are as unique as the individual. Climate, clothing type, and physical activity can all change the amount of water a person needs from day-to-day.
People with certain medical conditions (like diabetes or heart disease), on medications with diuretic side-effects, and people older than 50 or overweight, need to take extra precautions to avoid dehydration.
An easy way to tell if your water intake is sufficient is to check the color of your urine. If it’s pale and clear, you’re hydrated. If it’s dark, it’s time to increase your fluid consumption.
A serious red flag is not sweating during vigorous physical activity – that means you’re already dehydrated to the point of developing heat exhaustion, which can quickly advance into life-threatening heat stroke.
H2O is # 1
Water should be everyone’s first hydration choice, but fruits and vegetables are made up of a high percentage of water and should be used to supplement your daily fluid intake.
Sports drinks, fruit juices, and soda should generally be avoided – they’re high in sugar which can cause an upset stomach if you’re dehydrated. Drink water while you exercise, and then have a healthy snack like orange slices or a banana when you’re done.
Also, avoid caffeinated drinks since caffeine is a diuretic and will cause you to lose more fluids.
Hydration is for Everyone
Drinking enough water is important at all times – not just when you’re physically active. If you wait to hydrate until you exercise, your heart is already straining and you’ll be playing catch-up at the water cooler.
Even if you’re not exercising, sun exposure on a hot or humid day can cause your body to need more fluids. This can be particularly important when traveling to new climates, where you might sweat differently than you do at home.
So, show your heart some love – make H2O your go-to beverage this summer and drink up!