Hydration is important, whether you are playing sports, traveling, or just sitting outside. Good hydration helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles so they can work more efficiently.
Don't rely on thirst alone to tell you how much you need to drink. To keep your muscles working and avoid fatigue, it's extremely important to drink plenty of liquids before, during, and after activities.
Water is best for staying hydrated, but you don’t just have to drink it by the glass. Water can also be found in fruits and vegetables, like watermelon, tomatoes, and lettuce and in soup broths.
Sports drinks can be helpful if you are planning on exercising at higher than normal levels for more than an hour. They contain carbohydrates and electrolytes that can increase your energy and help your body absorb water.
If staying hydrated is difficult for you, here are some tips that can help:
Some people are at higher risk of dehydration, including people who exercise at a high intensity (or in hot weather) for too long, have certain medical conditions, are sick, pregnant or breastfeeding, trying to lose weight, or are not able to get enough fluids during the day. Older adults are also at higher risk.
Recognizing signs of dehydration is important. Look out for signs such as:
If you experience any of the signs of dehydration, increase your fluid intake. Sip fluids slowly at first, gradually drinking more and more. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they can have dehydrating effects on the body. Seek medical assistance if you do not improve. If you don’t feel better after rehydrating, or if you have a fever over 102°F (40°C), seek immediate medical help.