This time of year, as the temperatures become more pleasant and the frost melts away, many of us are beginning to spend more time outdoors. Whether it’s to start tending the garden again or to shake off the remnants of cabin fever with more regular exercise, it’s easy to forget how much water our bodies need when the temperatures haven’t caught up to our enthusiasm. Even if you don’t sweat much or feel thirsty, it’s still important to pay attention to your hydration needs.
Most people need around eight cups of fluids a day, but that amount can vary based on each person’s needs. More exercise or outdoor activity tends to increase fluid needs. Thirst is not always a good indicator of our hydration status. Normally, by the time your body registers it’s thirsty, you’re already a little bit dehydrated.
Juice, sports drinks, and sodas can be delicious to drink, but they’re also loaded with sugar, which means excess calories most of us don’t need. For more vigorous physical activity, such as running or biking, consider including a sports drink with electrolytes — sodium and potassium — only if you plan to exercise continuously for one hour or more.
Many people think of caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, and regular cola as contributing to dehydration. If you’re not used to drinking caffeine on a regular basis, these drinks can have mildly diuretic effects. However, if you habitually drink caffeine, you are less likely to experience the dehydration associated with consumption of these beverages, but that doesn’t mean you should skip on water.
You don’t have to give up these drinks completely, but try to think of them more as a “sometimes treat.” Water is best for our fluid needs, and it’s usually the cheapest option. When you do want something with an extra kick, try one of the following suggestions.
Start with a glass of water — tap, bottled, sodium-free seltzer or sparkling spring water. Mix and match from these refreshing additions:
• Honeydew Melon
• Fresh Mint Leaves
When you add sliced citrus fruit directly to your water, wash the outside of the fruit first to remove any residues on the peel.
Take it one step further and create a “Hydration Station” at home. Simply add your favorites from the list to a pitcher along with ice and water. Be sure to change the fruit in your water at least once a day, if not more. Challenge yourself to keep sipping before you feel thirsty!