It is that time of year when days get warmer and you may find yourself slipping into your shorts, tweaking up your A/C, and keeping that hat or visor handy. While you are preparing for the sunnier days, it pays to also be reaching for the bottle or glass of water more frequently. There are a variety of contributing factors that cause dehydration and Arizonans tend to be subject to many of them. Simply being alive causes our bodies to lose water. Beyond the obvious fluid lost from the kidneys’ function, our body’s water is dissipating continuously through evaporation on our skin and through breathing. In addition, strenuous exercise such as biking or hiking, warmer climates, higher altitudes, some medications, and being an older adult can contribute to dehydration.
Studies show that even mild dehydration can bring on symptoms of impaired concentration and memory, induce fatigue, headaches and anxiety, and decrease energy levels. Unlike a popular phrase nowadays, it really isn’t a good idea to “stay thirsty, my friends.” Dietitian, Joe Leech, states, “A 1-3% fluid loss equals about 1.5-4.5 lbs. (0.5-2 kg) of body weight loss for a 150 lbs. (68 kg) person. This can easily occur through normal daily activities, let alone during exercise or high heat.” Generally speaking, most people’s fluid intake meets the need provided we listen and respond to our ‘thirst’ indicator, are eating a healthy diet, and consuming a variety of liquids throughout the day. Another personal but very accurate indicator is urine color—urine will be clear or light yellow in a well-hydrated person.
Water holds a host of desirable benefits. By staying hydrated, we maintain our optimum level of alertness, promote a better mood, and can avoid dehydration-related pain. Although we can get water from other sources, many people in our higher, drier desert climate prefer to keep track of their water intake by drinking out of a container that is premeasured to hold a specific amount of liquid. But if water is not your thing, most other liquids work fine provided you avoid alcohol. You can also get a significant amount of water from your food, especially if you eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. One article by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD on WebMD states, “Food with high water content tends to look larger, its higher volume requires more chewing, and it is absorbed more slowly by the body, which helps you feel full. Water-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, oatmeal, and beans.” So besides giving your body the liquid you need for healthy hydration, you also get the potential advantage of weight loss.
At the Sedona Community Center, we have a large cooler of fresh, cool water just waiting for you to use after one of our invigorating exercise classes! Your local Community Center is a great place to stay active, make new friends, and enjoy new experiences.