Each and every one of us need to make sure we’re drinking enough! Irrespective of the time of year, temperature or time, your bodies need for fluid doesn’t stop, granted it might change slightly with regards to how much you need per day, but only marginally. Warm and humid environments make you sweat and perspire more, and the electrolyte losses through sweating mean that we our thirst response is better in summer months too. This only places more emphasis on making sure you consciously drink, because quite often your body is forgetting to remind you in the winter!
Many, especially the elderly, avoid drinking in the winter months because they end up needing to pee more and don’t relish the thought of getting up every 20-30mins to relieve themselves. The problem is that this can quickly lead to dehydration…yes, even in the winter months! So drinking plenty of water in the winter months may leave you peeing like a jet washer, but the fact is you will be absorbing a lot of that water, it’s just your body doesn’t have so many ‘insensible’ losses through sweating and evaporation when speaking and breathing etc.
Be sure to get enough fluid in by drinking no less than 30ml per kg body weight if you’re older than 60 years, and 35ml per kg body weight if you’re younger than 60 years. Try to sip fluid every 10-15 mins a day and you won’t go far wrong. Should you have a problem with excess urine output you can help your body to retain more fluid by adding a pinch of salt, or better still dropping in an electrolyte tablet such as High 5 Zero to 500ml or so of water.
Monitoring your hydration levels
It’s important that you keep tabs on your hydration on a regular basis to ensure optimal health and performance. All levels of dehydration impair performance, with some of the main issues including:
- Increased heart rate
- Impaired heat regulation
- Increased perceived exertion (exercise feels harder than it is)
- Reduced mental function
- Reduced skill level
- Stomach upsets
(Australian Institute of Sport, 2013)
How to check hydration
The best way to gauge hydration is to monitor your weight. A drop in weight after exercise is going to reflect fluid losses through sweating etc, so it’s important to know what you’ve lost so that you can replenish it properly. Each kg of weight loss is equivalent to 1 litre of fluid lost, so if you add the total fluid consumed during the session to the final weight loss then you get an idea of total sweat losses, and subsequently the amount of fluid needing replacing. For example, an athlete that finishes and exercise session 1kg lighter after consuming 1 Litre of fluid means their total sweat losses is 2 Litres.
Of course another good rule of thumb for gauging hydration levels is to monitor your urine, generally the darker the urine the worse your hydration levels are. Check out our very own urine chart to see where your hydration levels lie.
Australian Institute of Sport (2013). Hydration. Retrieved 13th November, 2013, from http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/faq/hydration