How to stay hydrated during summer months

Hydration is important every day especially the summer months and during physical activity. Drinking the right amount of fluids before, during and after physical activity is vital for providing your body the fluids it needs to perform properly. This will minimize risks for dehydration, over-hydration and heat illness and injury.

The overall goal is to minimize dehydration without over-drinking. Adequate hydration is personal and varies from person to person.

Take the Drinking Water Quiz

Look for: Urine color. The color of the first morning's urine void after awakening is an overall indicator of hydration status. Straw or lemonade colored urine is a sign of appropriate hydration. Dark colored urine, the color of apple juice, indicates dehydration.

Dehydration can occur in virtually every scenario. It doesn't have to be hot. You don't have to have visible perspiration. You can become dehydrated in the water, at a pool or lake, or skiing on a winter day.

Be alert for conditions that increase your fluid loss through sweat.

  • Air Temperature
  • Intensity of activity
  • Body Size and Gender:
  • Duration of activity
  • Fitness: Well-trained athletes perspire more than less fit people.

Swimmers sweat, too. Like any activity, when you swim, your body temperature rises and your body sweats to keep from overheating. You may not notice because you are in the water, but you can become dehydrated. Swimmers, from competitive athletes to families splashing around, need to drink fluids before, during and after swimming, even if you don't feel thirsty.

Know the signs of dehydration.

Early signs are:

  • Thirst
  • Flushed skin
  • Premature fatigue
  • Increased body temperature
  • Faster breathing and pulse rate
  • Increased perception of effort
  • Decreased exercise capacity

Later signs include:

  • Dizziness
  • Increased weakness
  • Labored breathing with exercise

Fluid Replacement

  • Replace fluids during daily activity and especially during exercise to promote adequate hydration. Drink water rather than pouring it over your head. Drinking is the only way to rehydrate and cool your body from the inside out. Sports drinks are more appropriate than water for athletes engaged in moderate- to high-intensity exercise that lasts an hour or longer. Rehydrate after exercise by drinking enough fluid to replace fluid losses during exercise. It is always advisable to check with your Doctor about any restrictions you may have if you have any chronic or acute illness.

Indrani Dhar is the supervisor of clinical nutrition on the staff of Putnam Hospital Center.