Competing in tournaments each summer, I know first-hand the importance of staying hydrated when exercising outdoors in the summer sun. Ever since I was diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease that dries out the mouth and eyes, in 2011, it became more important than ever for me to make sure I stay hydrated, on and off the court.
Whether you are heading out to the beach or for an outdoor workout in the sun, you probably know that you need to layer on the sunblock to stay safe in the summer rays. Just as you are smart about ensuring that you have proper SPF protection, when it comes to outdoor summer activities, there’s another important thing to keep in mind: staying hydrated. In fact, it’s critical for your health, since dehydration is a serious health hazard.
According to Everyday Health, “Severe dehydration has serious health consequences, but even mild dehydration may be damaging.” Dehydration can lead to fatigue, difficulty concentrating, confusion, impaired mood, headaches and kidney stones.
It might surprise you to learn that being thirsty is not a good indicator of when you should reach for a drink. In fact, experts recommend that people drink plenty of water before exercising or going out into the sun. So how much do you need to drink?
The Mayo Clinic reports that an adequate fluid intake for women is about 9 cups of total beverages a day. For men, the recommendation is roughly about 13 cups of total beverages a day.
If you exercise or sweat, you’ll need to drink more. For short amounts of exercise, Mayo Clinic recommends an additional 1.5 to 2.5 cups of water. For intense exercise lasting more than an hour, you’ll need to up your fluid intake even more; how much will vary based upon the duration and type of exercise and how much you sweat.
In addition to your level of exercise, your personal hydration needs can also vary depending on factors such as:
- the weather
- the type of clothing you are wearing
- your age
- whether you have certain medical conditions like diabetes
- if you are taking medications that can lead to increased dehydration
- if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
Eating water-rich foods like fruits and veggies can also help you stay hydrated. I’m a big fan of drinking my fruits and veggies, and stay hydrated with smoothies and green juice, too.
Of course, water is the gold-standard drink to stay hydrated! Keep your water bottle on hand, drink plenty and avoid thirst, and you’ll be primed to be better than your best, on and off the court, this summer and all year round – which is what the EleVen lifestyle is all about!