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Summer is here! The sun is shining, the air is hot and like most people you’re probably spending a lot of your free time enjoying the outdoors. It is important to stay hydrated year-round, but it is especially important in the summer time. Lack of proper hydration, during hot summer days can lead to severe and potentially fatal injuries/illnesses, such as heat stroke, low blood volume shock, urinary tract and kidney problems, even seizures. We’ve gathered some information to help you learn how to stay properly hydrated this summer!

How much water do you need?

What does being well hydrated mean? “The amount of water a person needs depends on climatic conditions, clothing worn and exercise intensity and duration,” says John Batson, M.D, a sports medicine physician with Lowcountry Spine & Sport in Hilton Head Island, S.C.

The Food and Nutrition Board at the federal Institute of Medicine offers an estimate on a healthy balance of water for adult men and women. It suggests men have about 3.7 liters daily. That’s about 15, 8-ounce glasses. Women should have about 2.7 liters, or 11 glasses.

According to the American Heart Association, A person who perspires heavily will need to drink more than someone who doesn’t. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, may also mean you need to drink more water. People with cystic fibrosis have high concentrations of sodium in their sweat and also need to use caution to avoid dehydration. And some medications can act as diuretics, causing the body to lose more fluid.

Thirst isn’t the best indicator that you need to drink. “If you get thirsty, you’re already dehydrated,” Batson said.

Batson said the easiest thing to do is pay attention to the color of your urine. Pale and clear means you’re well hydrated. If it’s dark, drink more fluids.

If you want to know exactly how much fluid you need, Batson recommends weighing yourself before and after exercise, to see how much you’ve lost through perspiration. It’s a particular good guide for athletes training in the hot summer months.

“For every pound of sweat you lose, that’s a pint of water you’ll need to replenish,” Batson said, adding that it’s not unusual for a high school football player, wearing pads and running through drills, to lose 5 pounds or more of sweat during a summer practice.

Not sweating during vigorous physical activity can be a red flag that you’re dehydrated to the point of developing heat exhaustion.

Ways To Help Yourself Stay Hydrated