Stay hydrated in the summer heat

Published 2:51 pm Wednesday, July 5, 2017

By Jennifer Howard

In talking with members of our local AARP chapter last week, I was quickly reminded that while we plan for emergency weather in the winter, we also need to be prepared for what to do in hot weather during the summer.

Keeping your body well hydrated is important no matter what the weather, but on these hot days of summer it is a necessity. Being hydrated means that you are taking in enough liquid to keep a healthy fluid balance in your body. When hydrated, the internal functions of your body work well.

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Dehydration occurs when you are physically active. As dehydration worsens, the amount of sweat produced decreases, the body’s ability to use oxygen for physical activity decreases and there is a decrease in muscle strength. Once you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrated. If dehydration persists, you may begin to feel discomfort with feelings of sluggishness and then nervousness. Dehydration can also cause irritability, fatigue and a loss of appetite.

Dehydration is a serious matter. However, you can keep your body well hydrated in spite of the hot weather. The key is to start drinking fluids before you feel thirsty and to drink water regularly, even when you are not active.

There are so many drinks from which to choose from to keep hydrated, but water is by far the best choice. Follow these guidelines for water intake before, during and after physical activities:

— Two hours before a physical activity session, drink 16 to 20 ounces of water.

— During physical activity, drink 6 to 12 ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes.

— After physical activity, drink 16 to 24 ounces of water.

In addition to these suggestions try to drink six to eight glasses of water a day to keep your body well hydrated. If you participate in more intense physical activity for more than one hour, a sports drink may be needed.

A lot of sweating depletes electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. Sports drinks are designed to replace these electrolytes. Keep in mind that these drinks do have calories. Avoid overloading on sports drinks and drink them only when necessary for your activity level.

Water is still the best source of keeping hydrated. If you don’t like plain water, try mixing it with a twist of lemon or lime for flavor, or try one of the flavored waters.

The main thing is to remember to keep a bottle of water handy so that you can keep your body hydrated and functioning well.

Be sure to visit us at the Winchester-Clark County Farmers’ Market from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday. Taste testing from the market is a great way to try new foods and shop our Winchester-Clark County Farmers’ Market.

Jennifer Howard is the  Clark County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences. Educational programs of Kentucky Cooperative Extension service all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age  or physical or mental disability.