February 28, 2014

Everyone knows it is important to stay properly hydrated, but how do you make sure you get enough water? First, let's look at how much H20 is enough H20. According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, women should consume 91 ounces of water a day, and men need 125 ounces a day; a good deal more than the 8 cups (64 ounces) we were always told to get. However, not all of this water needs to come from sipping out of a glass. We actually get water from a variety of food sources. It is also important to note that some people may need more or less than the recommended amount, depending on other factors such as activity level. One of the best ways to stay adequately hydrated is to pay attention to what our bodies are telling us, and rehydrate accordingly.  

So, let's look at some common signs of dehydration besides thirst:

  • Darker yellow urine
  • Dizziness
  • Dry skin or eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue

Definitely hydrate once you begin experiencing any of those symptoms, but it also never hurts to be proactive. It is a great idea to plan ahead and set up helpful reminders for yourself to ensure you get enough water, especially if you can think back to a recent day where you didn't put your lips to a single bottle or glass of water. Try out some of these tips and tricks:

  1. Drink a glass of water upon waking
  2. Carry a large bottle of water with you at all times
  3. Use a sharpie to mark levels on your water bottle that serve as a reminder to you about how much you should have drank by 10 am, noon, 2 pm and so on
  4. Drink a glass of water with every meal
  5. Eat at least five cups of fruits and veggies a day
  6. Hydrate before, during, and after exercise bouts
  7. Limit highly caffeinated or sugary drinks (which can dehydrate) and replace with healthier options such as green tea or low-sugar juices
  8. Add lemon, lime, mint, or cucumber to water for flavor to help you enjoy it more
  9. Place a pitcher of water at your work desk, or in sight nearby, for a visual reminder to drink up

If setting up reminders for yourself isn't your thing, the good news is that your body will tell you when it is time to drink more water. But, just remember that you have to pay attention to the signs. Make it a priority to maintain proper hydration and try out some of these tips today. Plus, March is National Nutrition Month and our UK Registered Dietitians have developed tools and a "Day By Day" challenge that helps you start forming healthful habits, like drinking more water, one day at a time. Check out the Day By Day challenge for more information.

By Will Swann, NSCA-CPT, CSCS 

This article was published in Healthy You, the monthly online newsletter from UK Health & Wellness.