During the summer, exercising, doing manual labor, or even spending long hours outside can cause sweating and dehydration. To stay healthy and avoid heat illness, you need to properly rehydrate. However, there is some confusion about the best way to rehydrate in the summer. Are sports drinks or water a better option? Can you have too much water? Learn how to hydrate properly during the summer and all year long.
When You Need to Rehydrate
Staying hydrated is important all year long. However, in the summer, you’re more likely to sweat, which means that your body loses more water. Plus, if you live in a climate with low humidity, the sweat evaporates quickly, and you may not notice how much you are sweating. Therefore, you may not be aware of the amount of water your body is losing.
Generally, you should follow your thirst as a signal to rehydrate. For example, if you feel thirsty during the summer, regardless of your activity, drink some water. However, at times of illness or for the very old or very young who may not recognize thirst cues, drinking regularly throughout the day can help with maintaining hydration.
Which Is Better to Rehydrate – Sports Drinks or Water?
When rehydrating in the summer, whether to have a sports drink or water is a serious decision. Some instances do require that you have the extra minerals and sugar provided by sports drinks. According to the Cooper Institute, you should choose sports drinks after the following activities:
- Full or half marathons, triathlons, or biathlons
- Training for the above
- Walking, running, or biking for more than an hour, especially in the heat
- Participating in a game of high-intensity sports, such as football, soccer, tennis, or basketball)
During other times or activities than those above, stick to drinking water. If you don’t like the taste of tap water, consider getting a water purifier to improve its taste. Plus, the more water that you drink, the more that you will appreciate the refreshing taste of it over sugary beverages.
With water, you will avoid unnecessary sugar intake and still provide your body with the hydration it needs. Plan your water intake to around 6 to 12 hours three to four times an hour. However, plan to consume more based on your thirst in hot weather.
Can You Overhydrate?
While rehydrating is important, there is a reason for limits on water intake during exercise. You can have too much water, leading to a condition called hyponatremia. This condition happens when the body has too much water, diluting its sodium content to dangerous levels. The good news is that this condition rarely happens except in instances of athletes not following hydration guidelines for sustained, long-duration activities. To avoid this, only drink when thirsty, and talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your hydration during exercise.
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