Keeping yourself hydrated needs to be a priority throughout the year. It can be a challenge — even in the winter — given the aridity of the environment both inside and out.
But it’s especially important during the Northern Arizona summer, when we’re still making up for the days we were cooped inside by colder weather but must contend with a comparatively hot, dry environment (which is getting more so).
Unfortunately there’s no one-size-hydrates-all solution, since our individual needs vary so widely based on weight, gender, activity level, age, kidney function and other factors.
Your best bet is to drink as much as is comfortable for you (without sending yourself to the bathroom every hour) and stay on guard against any symptoms of possible dehydration including darker urine, excessive thirst, fatigue, dry mouth or tongue, dizziness or shallow or rapid breathing.
You should be more proactive when you’re planning a workout or other moderate-to-intensive physical activity, consuming at least 8 to 12 ounces of fluid up to two hours before you begin. Keep a bottle in reach during your workout and sip some every 10 to 15 minutes, then imbibe at least 8 more ounces within 30 minutes after you finish.
To stay hydrated throughout the day:
- Drink water — The best approach is to drink moderate amounts throughout the day rather than gulping from gallon bottles. Bringing a bottle with you is often the best approach, but if you’re at home, an office or another place you know will have it available you don’t have to lug a jug.
You can get past its blah-ness by adding slices of citrus or berries, fresh herbs or mild spices, flavored ice cubes or other infusions. Add bubbly water into the mix, too!
- Sports or other electrolyte-containing drinks — Replenishing your sodium and potassium levels becomes more important after more than an hour or so of physical activity, and once your stores are depleted it accelerates dehydration.
There are plenty of natural as well as man-made sources of electrolytes, but look for products that have little to no calories and no added sugar.
- Eat water-dense fruits and vegetables — Watermelon, strawberries, cucumber, cantaloupe, tomatoes, lettuce, celery, cauliflower and many fruits and vegetables have water content levels of 90% or higher, making them excellent sources for hydration as well as key vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
Pure veggie and fruit juices also are great as long as they don’t have added sugar, which reduces their hydrating abilities as well as creates other problems.
- Drink some coffee and tea — As long as you keep your coffee intake to a cup or two per day they will definitely help, as the caffeine within any one serving is not enough to override all of the water it takes to make the beverage. Beyond that it will build up in your body and make it more difficult for you to retain moisture.
Tea contains less caffeine but the amount can vary widely, with black tea at the top, followed by green and white teas.