When it comes to gauging summer heat, you always hear the saying “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity!” While humidity certainly can make high temperatures feel hotter (up to 15-20 degrees!), dry heat can be just as taxing on the body and staying hydrated is essential to keeping your body operating in top form this summer.
Dry-heat versus humid-heat
Sweating is our body’s primary cooling mechanism; the moisture released through our pores evaporates, cooling our skin and releasing heat in the process. In a humid heat environment, sweat doesn’t evaporate as easily, and the cooling mechanism doesn’t work as well. It feels hotter, and we usually begin reaching for icy beverages or frozen treats to cool down, ultimately increasing our fluid intake. In a dry heat environment, the perspiration function is much more effective at cooling the body down, and since dry air is ready to absorb any moisture (including saliva and respiratory humidity), there is a much more rapid fluid loss, easily dehydrating the body. How do you stay hydrated in dry heat conditions?
Keep up with your summer hydration needs
In hot arid conditions, it’s easy to underestimate your hydration needs, and dangerous because the summer heat may be adversely affecting you before you realize it. Even mild dehydration can reduce muscle performance and mental alertness, and to avoid everything from headaches to heat stroke, try these four simple tips:
- Drink before, during and after activity. The Institute of Medicine recommends women drink about 11 cups of water daily, and that men drink 16 cups, but these guidelines are intended for people engaging in moderate levels of activity in temperate climates. Hot, dry heat conditions are extreme, and you will need to drink much more before, during, and after any physically demanding activities to stay hydrated.
- Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, which will actually increase your body’s need for water. According to the Cleveland Clinic, coffee, teas, and colas are not recommended for optimal hydration because these fluids tend to pull water from the body and promote dehydration.
- Carry a water bottle everywhere you go, and drink small amounts often. Drinking 4-6 ounces at a time, every 20-30 minutes, will keep your body regularly hydrated better than drinking large amounts, all at one time when you’re already parched.
- Eat to beat the heat. As much as 20% of our daily fluid intake is from the foods we eat, and adding fruits and vegetables with a high water content to your diet is a great way to increase your intake. Fruits like watermelon, strawberries, and star fruit, and vegetables like cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, and radishes are all over 90% water, low in calories, and are tasty additions to your meals or as snacks.
Is Pain Keeping You from Participating this Summer?
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