It's hot outside, and for many of us it also tends to be an active time of year, which means we need to be particularly mindful of keeping hydrated.
Staying well hydrated is important because it helps our hearts pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles. And, it helps our muscles work more efficiently. When it's hot out and we're not hydrated enough, this means the heart is working extra hard to do its job.
What does it mean to be well hydrated? This varies from person to person and depends on the temperature outside, the kind of clothing worn, what kinds of activities you're doing, and for how long. It also just really depends on your personal metabolism and biology. Generally someone who sweats more will also need to drink more water to stay hydrated.
Feeling thirsty? Thirst isn't the best signal that you need to drink — if you feel thirsty then you're probably already a bit dehydrated. Other signs of dehydration include:
- Sleepiness, or tiredness
- Decreased urine output
- Dry skin
Exactly how much water you need in order to stay hydrated varies from person to person. The whole eight glasses of water a day thing is a total myth — some people need more, and some need less. Generally, the easiest thing to do is pay attention to the color of your urine. Pale and clear means you’re well hydrated. If it’s dark, you need to drink more fluids.
If you're struggling to stay hydrated or looking for more creative way to get in your daily water count, we've got our top 10 tips below.
1. Hydrate in advance
Drink water before you exercise or go out in the sun. Sure it's important to keep hydrated once you're out, but drinking before hand is important to avoid undue strain on your heart.
2. Ditch the caffeine
Avoid drinks containing caffeine, which acts as a diuretic (makes you pee more) and causes you to lose more fluids. Alcohol is also a diuretic, so if you're enjoying summer cocktails or a few cold brewskies on a sunny patio, be sure to have a glass of water between every drink.
3. Eat fruit!
Most fruits (and vegetables) contain a substantial amount of water, and it all adds up.
4. Always be packing...
Water, that is. Keep a refillable water bottle by your desk, in your car, by your bedside table, or wherever else you're likely to remember it. Having water on hand is one way to ensure you'll remember to drink it.
5. Drink infused water
If you find plain old tap water hard to drink, try infused water. Add sliced lemons, cucumbers, berries, and herbs to your water to spruce it up. You can find water bottles that have infusers built into them, but you can also just fill a jar or carafe with flavours that you love.
6. Add a splash of juice
I don't advocate (or enjoy) drinking fruit juice because it tends to be empty calories and way too much sugar. But I do really like a small splash of juice added to a tall glass of water, and often find it to be more hydrating than straight water.
7. Add a pinch of salt
It sounds counter intuitive, but many people who have a hard time staying hydrated find that adding a pinch of sea salt to their water does the trick. Most electrolyte sports drinks contain some salt as well, so this has a similar effect without all the sugar, and for a fraction of the price.
8. Drink herbal teas
Similar to infused water, herbal teas are a great way to stay hydrated while bumping up the flavor. Make frozen ice treats from herbal teas to drink on particularly hot days.
9. Start your day with a big glass of water
Since you didn't drink any water over night and you lose moisture in the night from sweating and breathing, it's great to have a big glass of water when you wake up, even before your morning coffee or tea.
10. Have a liquid breakfast
Smoothies and smoothie bowls are a great way to add to your daily hydration.
Water image via Shutterstock.