How To Stay Hydrated

When you reach for a bottle of water, most of us probably aren’t thinking about all that it does for us, but water is an important nutrient that is essential for nearly every function that takes place in our body. Water helps us to regulate our body temperature through perspiration, moves nutrients and oxygen throughout our body, cushions organs, lubricates joints and much more.

It is important to stay well hydrated to keep our body functioning properly. To avoid dehydration, we need to replace fluids that are lost throughout the day during perspiration, breathing and urination. We can replace lost fluids through water and other beverages and through the foods that we eat.

So how much water do we need? Fluid needs vary depending on activity level, temperature, age and other factors. The Institute of Medicine recommends approximately 2.7 liters (91 oz) per day for women and approximately 3.7 liters (125 oz) daily for men. These recommendations include total water intake from both beverages and foods.  (About 80% of our water intake comes from beverages and about 20% comes from the foods that we eat.) There are times when we need even more water such as during strenuous activity or when our body is exposed to hot temperatures.

So whether you are an athlete or just want to stay hydrated on a hot summer day, follow these tips:

  • Check your urine- Small volume or dark-colored urine can be an indication that you are dehydrated. If your urine is pale or colorless, you are probably drinking enough fluids.
  • Weigh yourself- Before and after strenuous physical activity, check your weight. Drink 16-24 ounces of fluid for every pound of weight you lose.
  • Reach for water- Water is often the best choice for keeping your body hydrated. It has no calories and is widely available. Keep a bottle in your car, on your desk or in your purse to encourage you to drink it regularly.
  • Sip sports drinks- Sports drinks that contain fluid and electrolytes are a good choice for athletes engaged in moderate to high intensity exercise for an hour or more. 
  • Take a break- During extreme temperatures, make sure to take regular water breaks.
  • Plan ahead- Not only is it important to drink water during physical activity, but it is just as important to drink water before and after as well.
  • Dress smart- Wear lightweight, light colored clothing when you are exercising or working outdoors in the heat.
  • Don’t depend on thirst-During extreme temperatures or strenuous activity, don’t wait until your thirst hits to reach for a drink.  Take regular water breaks whether you feel thirsty or not.
  • Eat your water- Eat foods that contain lots of water such as fruits and vegetables.
  • Got milk?- Emerging research shows that drinking milk after exercise can help your body to rehydrate and refuel. 

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