Woman drinking water after exercise

The question of how much liquid to consume daily basis has no simple answer. Several studies have shown differing recommendations. However, specific fluid needs depend on several factors, which include overall health, location and even level of activeness. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, but knowing more about the body’s need for liquids can help in estimating how much ought to be sipped up.

“In the summer, hydration is even more important,” says James Mayo, co-founder of SOS Hydration Inc., a beverage and hydration company based in San Francisco. “Before we start any activity, it’s likely that we will be mildly dehydrated. To combat this, it is suggested you start your day hydrated or at least start your activity hydrated and then continue to hydrate throughout.”

A lot of liquid

Health authorities commonly recommend eight 8-ounce glasses of water, which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon.

“Summertime clearly means an increase in temperatures, as well as in many states’ humidity. We also want to get out more, and with the restrictions of COVID-19 being lifted, many people will be doing more,” Mayo says. “When partaking in exercise or intensive activities like gardening, it’s recommended to hydrate with water and electrolytes.”

Registered dietitian Mary Opfer, a professor at Pace University in Pleasantville, New York, says hydration is important because it helps regulate body temperature, dissolves nutrients and helps transport them to the body’s cells.

“Water is also the main part of every bodily fluid, including blood, gastric juice and salvia. Water also helps prevent constipation,” she says. “The average adult should drink about 2½ quarts per day. Another way to consume water is half your weight in ounces.”

How to hydrate

Opfer offers some tips to keep hydrated whether working in the yard, running, hiking or doing other outdoors activities for work or play.

“When I am outside, I use a reusable water bottle (20 ounces) and make sure I fill it twice a day at minimum,” she says. “Some reusable water bottles are able to keep the water cold, which is great in the hot weather. I would recommend

drinking plenty of water before you go outside for any activity; this way you avoid being dehydrated. ... Be sure to carry a bottle of water with you.”

Dr. Dana Cohen, author of a book about proper hydration called Quench, who’s in private practice in New York City, says it’s a great idea to frontload your fluid consumption by drinking a big glass first thing in the morning.

“It’s great to put a touch of real salt and/or lemon for minerals and electrolytes,” she says. “Then you want to stay on top of your hydration, so if you are sweating a lot you need to replenish that. Plain water is fine, but adding an electrolyte powder (no sugar) is a good idea, and especially if you are profusely sweating out those electrolytes and water. Eating your water in the form of vegetables, fruits, smoothies and more hydrating foods is actually more hydrating than drinking plain water alone. So load up on greens and consider adding a green smoothie a day.”

When going out in the wild where water sources may be limited, Mayo says especially in the summer it’s worth taking a cooler along and keeping some in the car upon returning because it’s not always easy to tell whether natural water is fresh and safe to drink.

“If you are going to be out for several hours in the wild, remember to take some electrolytes,” he says. “If possible, try to wear loose-fitting clothing and a cap to help regulate body temperature, so you reduce the amount of sweating and limit dehydration.”