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Warm weather is welcome for the chance to relax in the garden, take a walk in the sunshine, or play some sport outdoors. But spring and summer also increase the risk of dehydration. Being properly hydrated when you exercise outdoors is important in order to keep your body from overheating. When you are dehydrated it means there is a lack of water in your body – warm weather, particularly when you are exercising, causes you to sweat more and you lose water. When you lose fluids you affect how your body works. Here’s how to spot the signs of dehydration and what to drink for effective, everyday hydration.

What are the Signs of Dehydration?

There are several signs of dehydration, and thirst is not the only way to tell if you are dehydrated. Thirst is a sign of dehydration that occurs after your body has lost water. You may also feel tired, lose your appetite, experience flushed skin and an intolerance of heat, become light-headed, have a dry cough, and dark-colored urine.

If you suspect you are dehydrated or someone you know has become dehydrated, seek medical help.  One of the easiest ways to check if you are dehydrated is to check your urine – if it is clear and pale then you are properly hydrated. If it is darker, you need to drink more.

How Do You Avoid Dehydration?

The best and simplest way to avoid dehydration is to drink enough water. If you are taking part in an outdoor activity you should drink at least 16-20 fluid ounces (around two to three cups) one to two hours before you go outside. While you are outside, drink 6 to 12 fluid ounces every 10 to 15 minutes. Once you have finished the activity, drink at least 16 to 24 fluid ounces of liquid.

Which Liquids are Best?

While drinking water is a foolproof way to be properly hydrated, you may be wondering whether other drinks have the same effect. If you are active for a short period of time and the activity is low to moderate in intensity, the only liquid you need is water. If you are outside for longer or you are taking part in more intense exercise, you will benefit from a sports drink to replace lost chemicals like potassium and sodium along with fluids. Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea because they can promote dehydration. Fruit juices can be tough on your stomach when exercising and also have a lot of calories.