It’s summer in Florida, which means extreme heat, high humidity and hydration challenges. Getting enough to drink is important whether you’re working out, traveling or just sitting in the sun. Keeping the body hydrated helps the heart more easily pump blood through the vessels to the muscles and it helps the muscles work efficiently. It also keeps your body temperature better regulated, joints more lubricated, and protects sensitive tissues. Dehydration can be a very serious condition that can lead to problems ranging from fatigue, swollen feet and headaches to life-threatening illnesses such as heat stroke.
But how much water or fluid should you drink each day? According to the Mayo Clinic, “It’s a simple question with no easy answer.” No single formula fits everyone. Here are a few ways to determine what your body needs:
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake from both food and beverages is:
- About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men
- About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women
If you get thirsty, you are probably already dehydrated. Instead, most doctors recommend paying attention to your urine. Pale & clear means you’re well hydrated. If it’s dark, drink more fluids.
If you do any activity that makes you sweat - exercise, swimming, going to the beach - you need to drink extra water to cover the fluid loss. It's important to drink water before, during and after these activities. If exercise is very intense and lasts more than an hour, a sports drink can replace minerals in your blood (electrolytes) lost through sweat. But, limit these drinks at other times.
Knowing how much fluid you SHOULD have is much different than actually acquiring it. Consider committing to drinking the recommended amount for at least 24 hours to start. Journal how you feel before you start and then how you feel after. You will be surprised at the difference in most cases.
According to the National Institute of Health, another great way to get your fluid each day is through fruit and vegetables that are high in water, such as cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, watermelon, strawberries, peaches, bell peppers and spinach. Up to 20% of your water intake could come from food. Check out this summer recipe for grilled peaches from our Director of Healthy Eating, Chef Gary Appelsies.
By: Kelly Prather, Executive Director of Health Strategies & Member Experience