Staying Hydrated This Summer in 5 Easy Steps

Summer time is a great time to be active outside while it’s sunny and warm…but it’s important to stay hydrated!

It’s time to move activities outdoors. No matter what the activity is, if athletes are spending time outside being active this summer, they’re probably going to get a lot sweatier, making it important that they pay close attention to hydration.

When our bodies get dehydrated, we lose the ability to regulate body temperature, making us susceptible to heat illness. Dehydration also has a negative impact on exercise performance, so starting a workout, practice or game in a dehydrated state means athletes aren’t getting the most out of that session and are at a greater risk for heat illness.

If athletes are going to be active/exercising outside, they can follow the steps below to stay hydrated all day long and avoid performance deficits this summer.

5 Easy Steps to Stay Hydrated

1. Find out how much water you should be drinking in a day when you’re not active.

One basic equation for finding out how much fluid you should be drinking in a day is to divide your body weight in pounds by 2, and drink that much fluid in ounces per day.

For example, a 150 lb. athlete would need 150/2 = 75 ounces of water per day, or 9.5 cups (8-ounce cups) per day.

Fluids includes drinks other than water (including milk, juice, broth, etc.), but athletes should really be focusing on drinking at LEAST the recommended amount of fluid in pure water per day if they’re not active, plus EXTRA for exercise.

2. Monitor your hydration status.

At the Sanford Sports Science Institute, we encourage athletes to monitor the color of their urine to check on their hydration status. Lighter urine usually means an athlete is properly hydrated, so before going into a practice or game, athletes should make sure they are properly hydrated, especially if they’re going to be outside on a hot day.

3. Add extra fluid for the sweat lost during exercise.

Athletes who follow the above recommendations will likely get enough water during the day on an inactive day, and go into their workout or competition adequately hydrated, but this doesn’t mean they don’t have to replace the fluid lost in sweat during their workout. When we sweat, we lose water and electrolytes, making it important to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise.

One tip athletes can follow is to bring their water bottle to every workout and competition and take several large drinks of water at every break they get, or every 10-15 minutes.

Athletes can also monitor how much weight they lose during a workout or competition by weighing themselves before and after – any more than 2% weight loss indicated inadequate fluid consumption.

After the workout, replace the water lost in sweat by drinking 16-20 ounces of water for every 1 lb. of weight lost. By neglecting to replace the fluid lost during exercise, athletes may go into their next session in a dehydrated state.

3. Start drinking plenty of water early in the day.

A great tip for athletes to follow is to drink water right when they wake up, especially if they have a workout later in the day.

Some recommendations say to drink 2-5 cups of water, several hours before a workout or competition, especially if it is going to be outdoors in the heat.

For many busy athletes, starting the day off with several glasses of water becomes a healthy habit to promote hydration and start the day off on the right food.

4. Make note of the signs of dehydration and take action early.

Thirst isn’t always the best indicator of when athletes should drink water – sometimes you don’t get thirsty until you’re dehydrated. Other signs of dehydration include headache, dry skin, dry/sticky mouth, constipation and feeling tired or less energetic than usual.

If you’re experiencing any of those symptoms, drink up! Carry your water bottle with you and refill it several times a day, especially on days where you’ll be spending time outdoors in the heat. Some very intense or prolonged (>90 minute) workouts in the heat may require a sports drink or some sort of electrolyte replacement beverage.

5. Load up on fruits and vegetables!

Summer is the perfect time to load up on fresh fruits and vegetables, which are not only rich in nutrients, but also have a high water content. The foods you eat during the way will contribute to your hydration status, but during the summer, seasonal fruits like watermelon, strawberries, pineapple, zucchini, etc. have a high water content, making them extra hydrating.

Knowing how much you need to drink throughout the day, monitoring your hydration status, drinking plenty of water early in the day, knowing the signs of dehydration and loading up on water-rich fruits and vegetables are 5 easy steps you can take to stay hydrated, feel good and perform well all summer long!

Sweat testing at the Sanford Sports Science Institute

Find out more by calling 605-312-7878!

Athletes of all ages and from every sport who have access to the Sanford Fieldhouse can get their sweat fluid and electrolyte loss evaluated to receive individual-specific hydration and nutrition recommendations. These recommendations help athletes prepare for, manage, and recover from sweat fluid and electrolyte losses incurred during training or competition. Call today at 605-312-7878 to find out more on how this test would benefit you or your athlete.