Roxanne E Moore: Hi! I am Roxanne Moore, Registered Dietitian and Director of Wellness for Sodexo Schools. People typically delay drinking until they feel thirsty. Now unfortunately, the point of where you feel thirsty, you may be already on your weight towards dehydration.
There are several signs and symptoms related to dehydration with thirst being the earliest and least dangerous sign to heatstroke being the most severe and dangerous.
Now you don't need to be an extreme athlete to become dehydrated and everyone including athletes need to take specific measures each day to try and prevent dehydration.
So for example, you want a drink throughout the day. You want to consume at least 8 ounce or 1 cup portions of fluid. This equals a total of about 64 ounces of fluid a day or basically half of a milk jug filled with water.
You might also consider using a large water bottle and plan on drinking 3-4 bottles a day. Or, you might want to consider filling a large pitcher with water and making sure you finish it by the end of the day.
Now be careful not to over-hydrate. Now while it's rare it is possible to over-hydrate and symptoms can include digestive problem as well as blurred vision, drowsiness and confusion.
You also want to consider consuming foods that contain more water such as fruits, vegetables and soups. You never want to use laxatives unless you're directed under the supervision of your doctor.
For the recreational and endurance athlete, you need to have a hydration strategy. You can follow the basic guidelines in the fluid pyramid to ensure you are drinking enough water everyday and during exercise.
Plain cold water is the most economical and convenient source of fluid if you exercise for less than 90 minutes. The top of the pyramid reflects the minimum standards for athlete's hydration strategies on inactive days.
The base of the pyramid demonstrates the hydration guidelines for athletes engaged in activity in addition to the standard guidelines at the top of the pyramid. During activity the athlete should aim to drink 16 ounces or at least two cups of hydrating fluid at least one hour before the start of exercise.
Then they want to consume another 4-8 ounces every 15-20 minutes. That's a half a cup to a cup. When they are finished exercising they want to consume at least 24 ounces or 3 cups of fluid when the exercise is done.
If the athlete has remained well hydrated throughout the exercise, their urine should be a fairly clear or pale yellow color and their weight loss should be no more than one pound.
Now as a road biker I carry a CamelBak or a water pouch on my back. I sip on this from the time I start to the time I finish biking. It's a convenient and safe way to ensure I continue drinking throughout a two-hour ride.
CamelBaks also come in kid size and are great for long walks, boating, jogging or hiking. Staying hydrated requires a plan, it's also critically important that you practice hydrating before going into a competitive situation.
Practicing what you drink is equally as important as the physical training that comes with being a great athlete. So don't leave it a chance.