The importance of staying hydrated in the summer and how to ensure you’re hydrated.


You'll likely find yourself on the court, field, or diamond, battling the intense heat. The idea of a cool, refreshing drink may cross your mind, but it's not just a desire; it's a vital necessity for your safety and performance. Hydration is critical in keeping your body functioning and improving your performance. Adequate hydration can significantly enhance your endurance, speed, and athletic capabilities. However, when we neglect this need, we expose ourselves to the consequences of dehydration. These can range from dizziness, light-headedness, fatigue, weakness, and muscle cramps to more severe conditions like kidney stones, high blood pressure, and UTIs. Dehydration can also impair cognitive function, affecting your ability to concentrate and make decisions. Drinking water and staying hydrated can prevent these risks and keep all our bodies moving and functioning to perfection. 

Staying hydrated not only prevents dehydration; it also plays a crucial role in recovery. After a workout, your body needs to replenish lost fluids and repair muscle damage. By staying hydrated, you're aiding your body in these processes. According to Harvard Health, the general rule of thumb is to drink around eleven to fifteen cups of water. However, it's crucial to understand that hydration needs are not one-size-fits-all. They can vary based on age, gender, climate, activity level, and health conditions. For instance, women should drink eleven cups or just over two liters of water daily, while pregnant women should drink around eight to twelve cups daily. To determine your specific hydration needs, a personalized approach is recommended. This involves taking half your body weight and drinking that amount in ounces. This tailored strategy ensures that your unique hydration needs are met, enhancing your performance and safety. For those who prefer flavored options, you can infuse your water with fruits or herbs like mint for a refreshing twist without added sugars or calories. Herbal teas, especially caffeine-free ones, are also a good hydration option. Additionally, you can boost your water intake by consuming high-water-content foods like watermelon, cucumbers, and oranges.

Hydration can take a new face when it comes to athletes. With constant movement and sweating, you lose water and electrolytes. According to Hopkins Medicine, dehydration can affect flexibility, speed, and endurance. Therefore, staying hydrated is what keeps you on the top of your game. Because of the sweating, athletes should be drinking water not just during the game, but before as well. For every twenty minutes of play, you should drink around seven to ten ounces of water. This can vary depending on sweat rate and height, weight, and gender. In addition to this, when we sweat, we lose an essential mineral called electrolytes. These are specialized minerals or salts found in things such as pickle juice. Their job is to help maintain bodily fluid loss and protect the health of our heart, muscles, and nerves. It is important to remember to replenish these essentials when exercising. Sports drinks, such as Gatorade or Body Armor, or electrolyte packets mixed into your water can help replenish electrolytes. However you go about it, it is suggested that you have around 24 ounces of your sports drink or electrolyte-infused water two hours before the activity to stay properly hydrated. 

Staying hydrated is a cornerstone of our stars' performance on and off the field. When sitting on the sideline, the bench, or just around the house, drinking enough water and keeping track of your hydration is crucial to staying safe and performing your best. By ensuring you have the right amount of water, you give your body the materials it needs to conquer anything your day brings and keep you cool for the summer months. 

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