HYDRATION & HEAT HACKS

By: Cortney Welch – BS, CSCS

Did you know that your body is made up of 60-85% water? Hydration is such a simple and vital part of living a healthy life, yet it is often overlooked. Drinking water is key to avoiding heat stroke, dehydration, and other dangerous medical conditions. The main question people ask me is, “How much water should I drink?” Studies have produced varying recommendations over the years. However, your individual water needs depend on many factors, including your health, your activity, and where you live. No single formula fits everyone. However, knowing more about your body’s need for fluids will help you estimate how much water to drink daily. “The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is:

  • About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men
  • About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women
Man and Woman Hydration with water while exercising

These recommendations cover fluids from water, other beverages, and food. About 20% of daily fluid intake usually comes from food and the rest from drinks.” (1) Regarding fruits and veggies, watermelon and spinach are almost 100% water by weight! Contrary to popular belief, even caffeinated drinks — such as coffee and soda — can contribute to your daily water intake. But go easy on sugar-sweetened drinks as they contain a lot of added sugar and other ingredients. Alcohol is a big culprit of dehydration; however, if you do wish to drink, make sure you follow a one-to-one water-to-drink ratio! Many people have asked me if there is such a thing as drinking too much water; while unlikely, it is possible if you consume too much at one time in an effort to hydrate too quickly in a short amount of time. Our trainer Melissa says, “Plain coconut water is my favorite for hydrating. The biggest thing I tell people is not to be afraid of sugar- glucose, which you need for gastric emptying. Avoid fake sugars at all costs. Use 1/8 teaspoon of maple syrup and 1/16th teaspoon of salt in 10 oz of water if you want to make your own; that ensures the right balance of salt and sugar to stay hydrated through the day. Gatorade is more so for heavy activity in the heat for longer than an hour.” Share the following hydration hacks with family and friends to help encourage everyone to feel their best and stay hydrated:

  • Drink water throughout the day, even if you are not thirsty.
  • Carry a reusable water bottle and refill it often.
  • Flavor your water with fruits, herbs, or natural flavorings if you wish.
  • Consider electrolyte-enhanced drinks for extended periods of activity.
  • Include a balance of hydrating foods like fruits and vegetables in your diet.
  • Use an app or set a reminder on your phone to remember to drink periodically.

Here in Florida, we know that the heat is no joke; lately, it is hotter than ever! I cannot stress the importance of knowing the signs and differences of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke and when to seek medical attention. Heat cramps are the mildest form of heat illness and consist of painful muscle cramps and spasms that occur during or after intense exercise and sweating in high heat. Heat exhaustion is more severe and occurs in extreme heat conditions and excessive sweating without adequate fluid and salt replacement. Last but not least is heat stroke, the most severe form of heat illness, which occurs when the body’s heat-regulating system is overwhelmed by excessive heat. It is a life-threatening emergency and requires immediate medical attention. (5) There is a great chart with first-aid tips and tricks depending on the symptoms if you click the fifth link in the resources. Children, older adults, and obese people have a higher risk for these illnesses. People taking certain medicines and people with heart disease also have a higher risk. (6) Share the following cooling hacks with family and friends to help encourage everyone to feel their best and stay safe in the heat:

  • Dress for the weather: light, loose-fitting, breathable clothing.
  • Seek shade and air conditioning when possible.
  • Take cool showers or baths.
  • Wet a bandana or cloth and wear it around your neck.
  • Use natural cooling methods like fans and misters.

For more information on dehydration, hydration, electrolyte recommendations, and heat conditions, please read through the links I have included in the resources and references in this blog. Don’t forget about our furry friends and fur babies! I included some information on how to keep dogs cool and hydrated in the resources! (7 & 8) Thank you for reading, and don’t forget to stay hydrated and cool this summer!

Resources/References

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256
  2. What Counts as Water? How to Stay Hydrated (webmd.com)
  3. The 11 Best Electrolyte Drinks of 2024 (health.com)
  4. Dehydration: Symptoms & Causes (clevelandclinic.org)
  5. Heat-Related Illnesses (Heat Cramps, Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stroke) | Johns Hopkins Medicine
  6. How to avoid overheating during exercise: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
  7. https://neuserivervets.com/tag/and-happy-during-the-hot-months-expert-advice-on-hydration/#:~:text=Summer%20Tips%3A%20Stay%20Hydrated%F0%9F%92%A7&text=Consider%20using%20an%20insulated%20bowl,and%20healthy%20all%20summer%20long!
  8. https://www.sunmark.org/connect/sunmark-360/20-cheap-ways-keep-your-furry-friends-healthy-heat
  9. Use me as a resource as well! Contact me with any questions or if you want to talk directly about anything in the blog. (912) 977-0110 or cortney@getmomentumfit.com

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