Why it's important to stay hydrated
When the weather gets warm and activities move outdoors, drinking the right amount of fluid is important. The amount and type of fluid that should be consumed are different for each person and varies with the type of activity being performed.
Adequate total fluid intake is about 9.5 cups fluid/day for women and 11.5 cups/day for men. It's important to remember the body can only absorb 16 ounces of fluid per hour under normal circumstances, so try to spread intake over the entire day.
Signs of dehydration
Excessive fluid loss during high heat & humidity can make it difficult to take in enough oral fluids to prevent dehydration. Summer days spent outside being active can increase dehydration risk. Signs of dehydration include excessive thirst, flushing skin, fatigue, quickened breathing/pulse. Left untreated, dehydration can cause major health problems.
Be sure to closely monitor signs of dehydration and try to replace fluids during activity, keeping in mind that needs will be greater when any of the above conditions are met.
Replenish with electrolytes
Sports drinks can have benefits when engaging in moderate to high-intensity exercise for an hour or longer. Sports drinks contain electrolytes including sodium and potassium, which help the body retain hydration and replace electrolytes that are lost in sweat.
Commercial sports drinks and coconut water contain electrolytes and can help replenish stores lost during strenuous activity. One of the better ways to prevent dehydration during activity is to have a snack prior to the activity.
Too much fluid can also cause problems. Symptoms of overhydration are like those of dehydration. When participating in long stretches of physical activity or being in a very hot environment for long periods of time, be sure to replenish sodium and electrolytes as well as fluid.