Adequate hydration is important on a daily basis. However, when summer temperatures increase it is critical to plan ahead and avoid dangers of dehydration. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, to avoid dehydration, active people should drink at least 16-20 ounces of fluid one to two hours before an outdoor activity and consume 6-12 ounces of fluid every 10 to 15 minutes outside. Drinking does not stop after completion of an activity. When finished, drink more to replace what was lost – approximately another 16-24 ounces.
Water is the best beverage choice for normal outdoor activity. If activity increases to a more intense level, sports drinks can be helpful to replace fluid and electrolytes lost in perspiration. Without some form of replacement, cramping can occur due to the decrease of electrolyte levels in the body.
It is not recommended to drink alcohol or caffeine-based beverages during physical activity in the heat. These types of beverages pull water from the body and have an opposite effect, which can be hazardous to personal health.
As a body burns energy, heat generates - heat leaves the body in the form of sweat. When activity levels increase, so does sweat and much-needed fluid is lost. If too much fluid is lost in the body, it can lose normal function, which creates danger for dehydration, heat stroke and more.
It is important to know warning signs of dehydration and heat-related illness. Be on the lookout for dizziness or light-headedness; severe muscle cramping, nausea, headache, confusion, erratic behavior or feeling chilled (goosebumps) when you should feel hot. The key is to react fast if experiencing symptoms. Get out of the sun immediately and ask for assistance. Time is essential to prevention and recovery.
Be smart! Prepare kids/family for summer sports, activities and outdoor gatherings. Proper hydration plays a vital role in whether summer is memorable in a positive or negative way. Don’t wait to hydrate, keep everyone safe!