Stay healthy in the summer: keep hydrated

This morning my sister’s band played music for a local 5K to support a family with medical expenses. Last week, there was another handful of races. Next week is the county marathon, and that is only the tip of the iceberg. Foot races are a quintessential part of summer, and in my neighborhood, the whole summer is littered with them.

With summer comes higher heats. And higher heats can create some serious issues when participating in races. Yesterday, a man in Chicago died after competing in an annual half-marathon. The temperatures in the Windy City reached up to 86 degrees in the morning, prompting race officials to warn runners to drink extra water and to not take it too hard. Unfortunately, the young runner did not take it easy and was whisked away to the hospital where he later died. The race was eventually canceled.

While this is an extreme case, dehydration related injuries are not uncommon in the summer. So if you want to avoid using your very cheap health insurance on a trip to the hospital to get hydrated, follow these simple tips:

  • Drink plenty of water. When you get really thirsty, you are already a bit dehydrated. Thirst is your body’s way of telling you, I need more water! Listen to your body. To avoid getting dehydrated, drink water all of the time. Any easy way to remember? Carry a water bottle with you so you can sip when you need a bit. If plain water is not doing it for you, add in some flavor. But don’t think that soda will act as a replacement. Soda will actually dehydrate you because it is a diuretic, causing you to need more liquids. Skip the soda (it is bad for you anyway) and keep with the water.
  • Increase water intake when doing physical activity. Dehydration is when your body is releasing more liquid and not getting enough in return to replenish it. With sports, you are releasing a lot of your body’s water and energy when you sweat. Drink extra water to help replenish what you have lost. This is especially important when doing physical activity when it is also extremely hot outside (like the marathoners mentioned above). Sports drinks like Gatorade are a popular way to replenish your electrolytes- another thing you lose when you sweat.
  • Know your body and the signs of being dehydrated. For me, I get headaches when I am dehydrated. I know exactly what the headache feels like, so I know to drink plenty of water (and an aspirin) to get rid of it. Another sign of dehydration is infrequent urination. If you have not gone to the bathroom all day, you are probably dehydrated. Get to drinking. And, as gross as it sounds, the color of your urine is a key indicator on how much water you are intaking. The more hydrated you are, the lighter color of urine. Gross maybe, but it is worth a look in the toilet bowl.

While some symptoms of dehydration are mild and only require a simple glass of water, some can result in life threatening symptoms. Keep yourself healthy and safe with the purest drink in the world: water.