Stay Hydrated. Stay Healthy. | Old Town Athletic Campus

by Shawn V. Pittington

NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist


Whether you’re playing sports, traveling or even just sitting in the sun during these dog days of summer, getting enough to drink is vital!

Why is hydration important?

Dehydration is no joke! It can lead to problems ranging from swollen feet or a headache to life-threatening illnesses such as heat stroke.

Keeping yourself hydrated throughout the day is a big favor to your heart, which needs hydration to help it pump blood through your blood vessels to your muscles so they work efficiently.

How much water does a person need?

I tell clients all the time, “If you’re thirsty, your body is already dehydrated.” But thirst isn’t necessarily the best indicator of dehydration. The amount of water a person needs depends on climatic conditions, clothing worn, and exercise intensity and duration.

Hydration needs also vary depending on these body/health conditions:

  • 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 mean you need to drink more water than other people.
  • People with cystic fibrosis have high concentrations of sodium in their sweat, and need to use caution to avoid dehydration.
  • Some medications can act as diuretics, causing the body to lose more fluid.
  • People who have a heart condition, are older than 50, or are overweight may have to take extra precautions.

Want to know exactly how much fluid YOU need? Try weighing yourself before and after exercise to see how much you’ve lost through perspiration. Every pound of sweat you lose is a pint of water you’ll need to replenish.

This is a particularly good method for athletes who train in the hot summer months. It’s not unusual for a high school football player wearing pads and doing drills to lose five pounds or more of sweat during a summer practice!

How do I know if I’m hydrated?
Luckily, there’s a quick way to determine if you’re hydrated enough. Pay attention to the color of your urine! Pale or clear pee means you’re well-hydrated. If it’s dark, drink more fluids.

Which drink(s) hydrate best?
For most people, water is the best thing to drink to stay hydrated. There are even foods you can eat that contain high percentages of water, like fruits and vegetables.

What about sports drinks?
Sports drinks with electrolytes may be useful for people doing vigorous, high intensity exercise in very hot weather, but they tend to be high in added sugars and calories.

When is it most important to hydrate?
Hydration isn’t just important during physical activity. Sitting in the sun on a hot or humid day, even if you are not exercising, can also cause your body to need more fluids.

You should also keep tabs on your hydration when you travel–you might sweat differently when you’re in a different climate!

Stay hydrated and stay healthy, everyone!

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