Common Tips for Keeping Hydrated

by: Scott White

Many people, especially in Arizona, have challenges with staying hydrated.  People simply don’t know how much water is needed, and what basic, daily activities will dehydrate their bodies.

Hydrating yourself is simple if you follow a few easy tips.  These tips are especially important when participating in a weekly exercise program.

  • It is important to limit caffeine intake.  Caffeine naturally dehydrates the body, causing immediate dehydration.  While that morning coffee or Late at Starbucks sounds great, try going for a morning walk to gain the energy you need for your day.
  • Immediately consume 16 oz. of water in the morning.  This will not only hydrate your body it will give your systems a much needed jump start for the day.  The human body actually loses water during sleep.
  • Don’t wait until your thirsty to drink water.  By the time you feel thirsty, you have probably already lost two or more cups of your total body water composition.
  • Throughout the day, consume an estimated 1 gallon of water total.  While this may sound like a lot of water, if you fill up a milk jug size bottle with water, and drink it throughout the day, you will see it’s not that hard.  It is important not to consume more than 2 gallons of water.  This will flush the body of important vitamins and minerals needed for daily activity.
  • For every hour of working out, consume AT LEAST 16 oz. of water.  This will keep your body functioning at 100% capability.  In addition, when finished exercising, drink at least 8 oz. of water.
  • In areas where the water is not the best quality, do not consume tap water.  Not only is bottled water better for your system, it makes drinking 1 gallon of water a much more enjoyable experience.
  • For Arizona:  Cool water – not carbonated beverages or sports drinks – is the best fluid for keeping hydrated when it’s warm outside. Cool water is absorbed much more quickly than warm fluids and may help to cool off your overheated body.

According to a study conducted by scientists at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) in Barrington, IL, athletes consistently underestimate how much water they need to stay hydrated.  The study concluded athletes could not estimate their sweat losses and fluid consumption during a 10-mile race. Eighteen seasoned runners participated in the study.   The results showed that the runners drastically underestimated how much sweat they lost and consequently drank too little to stay well hydrated. The runners underestimated their sweat losses by an average of 46 percent and their fluid intake by an average of 15 percent, resulting in the runners replacing only 30 percent of their fluids lost through sweat.

"These data show that even the most experienced runners are unable to accurately estimate their sweat losses and cannot subjectively judge how much fluid to drink to prevent dehydration," said Mary Horn, M.S., co-author of the study and exercise sensory scientist at GSSI. "If seasoned athletes such as these do such a poor job of judging their fluid needs, the potential for dehydration may be more severe for the average exerciser, especially during the hot summer months."

Be sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the week, and make water a permanent and consistent part of your day.   It’s good for you!