As summer approaches, spending more time outdoors sounds more and more appealing. With this extra time in the heat and sun, it’s natural to feel like you need to drink more fluid throughout the day to stay feeling healthy. But what is a healthy amount of water to drink in a given day? How do we know when and how much to drink to stay hydrated, especially in summer?
As with most questions about the body, it varies! Below are some helpful guidelines for staying healthy and hydrated this summer.
1. Keep track of your activity level.
It seems to be common sense that more activity requires more water to stay hydrated, but what does this mean practically? Most of us vastly underestimate the amount of water that we sweat out with outdoor activities. For example, the average person can sweat out upwards of 1 liter in just an hour of moderate activity! A good rule of thumb is to drink a steady small amount of water (or other fluids) during your activity. This allows you to stay ahead of all the fluid you’re losing and, as always, listen to your body.
2. Know what is normal for your age/gender.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that women need 2.7 liters of fluid per day and men need closer to 3.7. However, this can still vary based on your activity level, age, and medical history. For example, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need to consume more fluids to stay hydrated. Younger individuals (below age 14) tend to need less water generally but also tend to need to keep track of their fluid loss with activity more consistently. And no matter your age or gender, you need to consume more fluids when you increase your activity level.
3. Listen to your body.
Oftentimes the best indicator of needing to drink more water is our body! Thirst is an obvious indicator, but there are a few others. Fatigue, mental confusion or tiredness, poor temperature regulation, or darkened urine can all indicate that you need more fluids. Thirst is often one of the later indications that you might need more fluids. Paying attention to your energy level is a good way to catch dehydration before it becomes a bigger problem.
Dehydration is an unpleasant physical side effect of not consuming as much fluid as we release. It’s easily preventable with awareness of how we feel, how much fluid we consume, and recommendations for how much fluid we need. Stay hydrated by listening to your body and enjoying summer activities WITH a cool beverage!