Another historic Tour de France finished this week, and it was a hot one. Cold water bottles and draped ice-filled pantyhose around their necks were imperative to beat the summer heat. Overall, cyclists know the importance of staying hydrated, but team managers or coaches don’t want to take chances regarding their riders’ peak performance and recovery. One team’s doctor gave out a color chart to his riders to determine whether their urine showed signs of dehydration. Which makes for a good camaraderie and laughs, but it really means that your pee has to be very clear.

    Water is essential for life, as it makes up 60 percent of the average person’s bodyweight. Before we go on and talk about the importance of hydration in the summer, and how to monitor your hydration status, go ahead and grab a big glass of water, because if you’re like me, always forgetting to bring my water bottle to work, you might be dehydrated.

    Looking at urine color is the quickest way to monitor hydration. Clear to light yellow color indicates adequate hydration, while darker colors, as in the doc’s hued color charts, indicates dehydration. Keep in mind that certain vitamins and supplements can make the color of urine not representative of hydration level. For example, high doses of vitamin B can cause neon yellow pee, or vitamin C or riboflavin that contain carotene can cause yellow to orange colors.

    This year’s three-week race had many days over 86 degrees, and starting and ending the day hydrated was key. With all the time spent outside this summer, it is important to do the same. You want to have adequate hydration throughout the day—make it a habit throughout the day and not just before or after exercise.

    On any given hot day, the heat and dry conditions contribute to the water our bodies lose and needs to be replaced. A common recommendation regarding how much water you should drink is eight eight-ounce cups a day. That’s easy to remember, and a reasonable goal, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, everyone is different, and the actual amount of water needed depends on a number of factors, such as heat and humidity, and individual differences, including sweat rate, body mass and exercise intensity and duration.

    Signs of dehydration are:

  • Dry mouth
  • Tiredness
  • Thirst
  • Decreased urine output
  • Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Dry skin
  • Urine darker than normal

    Make it a habit to carry a bottle of water with you. If you have a water bottle labeled with volume measurements, put rubber bands around the bottom of it. Every time you finish a bottle, slide the rubber band to the top to help remind you to drink throughout the day. Remember also that all foods have some water in them, especially summer fruit and vegetables. What a good way to stay healthy and hydrated!

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