When the temperatures rise, getting enough water is important whether you’re playing sports, traveling, or just sitting in the sun.

Drinking enough water keeps the body hydrated, which helps the heart more easily pump blood through the body. It also helps muscles work efficiently. If you’re well hydrated, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard.

Dehydration means your body doesn’t have enough water, which can make you feel really thirsty and cause other problems such as dizziness, feeling tired, swollen feet, a headache or even 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 the climate, clothing worn and exercise intensity and duration.

Health issues can require more hydration in children, adults, and especially senior citizens. Some medications can work against you in the summer heat so check with your doctor for information on your medications.

Thirst isn’t the best indicator that you need to drink. If you get thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. 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. Some foods can be a source of water, such as fruits and vegetables. 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 added sugars and calories. It’s healthier to drink water while you’re exercising, and then when you’re done, eat a healthy snack like orange slices, bananas or a small handful of unsalted nuts. Avoid fruit juices or sugary drinks, such as soda. They can be hard on your stomach if you’re dehydrated. It’s also best to avoid drinks containing caffeine, which can actually work against the hydrating efforts.

Drinking water before you exercise or go out into the sun is an important first step. Otherwise, you’re playing catch-up and your heart is straining.

Not just for athletes or exercise

Hydration isn’t just important during physical activity. You also need to keep tabs on your water intake if you are:

  • Sitting in the sun on a hot or humid day, even if you aren’t exercising.
  • Out watching a kids baseball game
  • Hiking on a trail
  • Walking the greenways
  • Or out in the yard getting chores done
Here are some links to help with figuring out the best way to hydrate: