Now that we’re in the thick of summer, soaring temps and sticky humidity are generally the norm (except for the lucky few in more temperate areas!). Despite the heat, the last thing you want to do is spend your entire summer cooped up inside in the air conditioning. So to make sure that you stay safe and cool even during the hottest days, here are a few tips to keep in mind to prevent dehydration and overheating:
To stay hydrated…
Keep water on hand: Take a water bottle with you before leaving the house and drink from it throughout the day. Feeling thirsty is a signal that your body is already on the way to dehydration, so drink up!
Snack on hydrating fruits and veggies: Peaches, oranges, cucumber, carrots, watermelon, and grapes all taste great and help to re-hydrate!
Keep tabs on your hydration levels: There are a number of ways to monitor yourself to make sure you’re getting enough fluids. For example, pinch the skin on the back of your hand for a few seconds, then let go. If the skin stays lifted (as opposed to immediately returning to normal), drink up. You can also weight yourself before and after exercise to make sure you’re not sweating more water than you’re taking in – if you lose more than three percent of your body weight, take steps to rehydrate.
Drink water before, during, and after exercising: If you are doing low to moderate activity for less than an hour, water is sufficient. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that for every 15-20 minutes you exercise, drink 3 to 8 fluid ounces of water (if you’re not exceeding 60 minutes of exercise).
However, if you are exercising for over an hour, particularly in extreme heat, you should consider supplementing water with your choice of electrolyte replacement. The ACSM recommends that when exercising for an hour or more, for every 15-20 minutes you exercise, drink 3 to 8 fluid ounces of a sports beverage (containing 5 to 8 percent carbohydrates, along with electrolytes). Also, avoid drinking more than more than a quart during an hour of exercise.
To stay cool…
Dress appropriately: Lightweight, light-colored clothing help reflect sunlight away from your body and help keep heat levels down, and loose-fitting options are more comfortable since the fabric is less likely to stick to your skin. Wear clothes that are made of cotton or a sweat-wicking material. Protect your face with a wide-brimmed hat, and wear sunscreen.
Choose the time you spend outdoors wisely: The temperature tends to be cooler in the early morning and early evening. If you are going to spend time outside during peak heat, opt for shady areas and try to avoid direct sunlight. And don’t forget to use sun protection no matter what!
Listen to your body: If you start to feel dizzy, lightheaded or faint, take a break from whatever you are doing, have some water, and find a cool area to rest in.
Know the signs of a heat-related illness: Visit the CDC’s Extreme Heat and Your Health website to learn about the warning signs of heat-related illness. If you suspect that you or someone you are with is experiencing heat stroke, call 911 immediately.
By planning ahead, you and your loved ones can enjoy the warm weather and stay safe, cool and refreshed on hot summer days.
For Health Advocate members
If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to the wellness coaching component of our Wellness Program, contact your coach for more information on how to stay cool and hydrated during the hot summer months.