During the hot summer (and winter and spring) months in Houston, dehydration is a prime health concern. Even if you are drinking regularly, you may not be retaining enough fluids to keep your body properly hydrated. So how much fluid do you need?
The answer is: it depends! The amount of water you need depends on climatic conditions, the clothing you’re wearing, and your current activity level.
Someone who sweats heavily, for example, will need to drink more than someone who stays relatively dry. Diabetics or people with heart conditions may need to drink more water, and certain medications make you urinate more often, which means your body loses fluid at a higher rate.
Don't think that drinking when you’re thirsty will keep you safe: by the time you feel parched, your body has already started to dehydrate. A better indicator of your body’s need for fluid is actually the color of your pee!
If urine is pale and clear, that means you’re well hydrated—good job! If, however, it’s dark and concentrated, that’s a strong indication that you need to drink more fluids ASAP.
If you want to know exactly how much fluid you need, try weighing yourself before and after exercise; the weight differential will show you how much sweat-weight you’ve lost. The key to staying safe, especially when running outdoors in these hot months, is to replenish every pound of sweat weight (or portion thereof) with a pint of water.
While that may seem unlikely to you—who loses a pound during a workout these days??—it’s especially applicable to those in serious training, be it for a marathon or for high school athletics. Keep in mind as well that if you’re not sweating while being out and active in the heat, it could be another indication that you’re dehydrated—possibly dangerously so.
So, keep an eye on the porcelain throne this summer and follow our new adage to stay safely hydrated: if it’s pale yellow, let it mellow, if it’s dark, grab a drink!