Information Courtesy American Heart Association
When the temperatures rise, getting enough to drink is important whether you’re playing sports, traveling or just sitting in the sun.
Keeping the body hydrated helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles. And, it helps the muscles remove waste so that they can work efficiently.
Dehydration can be a serious condition that can lead to problems ranging from swollen feet or a headache to life-threatening illnesses such as heat stroke.
How much water do you need?
What does being well hydrated mean? The amount of water a person needs depends on climatic conditions, clothing worn and exercise intensity and duration.
A person who perspires heavily will need to drink more than someone who doesn’t. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, may also mean you need to drink more to avoid over-taxing the heart or other organs. People with cystic fibrosis have high concentrations of sodium in their sweat and also need to use caution to avoid dehydration. And some medications can act as diuretics, causing the body to lose more fluid.
Thirst isn’t the best indicator that you need to drink.
Not sweating during vigorous physical activity can be a red flag that you’re dehydrated to the point of developing heat exhaustion.
Water is best.
For most people, water is the best thing to drink to stay hydrated. Sources of water also include foods, such fruits and vegetables which contain a high percentage of water. Sports drinks with electrolytes, may be useful for people doing high intensity, vigorous exercise in very hot weather, though they tend to be high in calories.
Avoid fruit juices or sugary drinks, such as soda.
It’s also best to avoid drinks containing caffeine, which acts as a diuretic and causes you to lose more fluids.
Always drink before you exercise or go out into the sun is an important first step.
Not just for athletes or exercise.
Hydration isn’t just important during physical activity. Sitting in the sun on a hot or humid day, even if you aren’t exercising, can also cause your body to need more fluids.
People who have a heart condition, are older than 50 or overweight may also have to take extra precautions.