The hot summer months can take a major toll on your body. To enjoy yourself all day long, it's important that you keep yourself well-hydrated.

Did you know that it only takes a loss of one to two percent of your body's water content to become dehydrated? Dehydration occurs when your body uses more water than you take in. People who spend a lot of time doing outdoor activities such as gardening, walking, jogging, and sports are especially at risk.

The Importance of H2O
Don't think water consumption is a big deal? Your body is composed of nearly 70 percent water. It's essential for your body's systems to properly function. Water:

  • Regulates body temperature
  • Moistens tissues
  • Protects organs
  • Lubricates joints
  • Prevents constipation
  • Flushes out waste products
  • Carries oxygen and nutrients to cells

Tip: Adults of all ages should drink a minimum of eight glasses of water daily. Children should drink six to eight glasses.

Be Proactive: Prevent Dehydration
You lose water throughout the day, even if you're not involved in any strenuous activities. Where does it go? Your body loses water every time you sweat, urinate, and breathe.

Increase your normal water intake before and after you exercise or spend time in the sun. Drink at least two cups of water one to two hours before--and about half a cup every 10 to 15 minutes during--the activity. To replace what you used, drink at least another two cups afterwards. Never wait until you're thirsty--this is usually the first sign of dehydration.

Tip: Avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol, as well as fruit drinks and soda. Only water can truly quench your thirst.

Signs of Dehydration
The moment you feel thirsty, you may be dehydrated. Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Lightheadedness
  • Lack of energy
  • Producing less urine
  • Dark urine

Kids
Kids love playing outside during the summertime. To make sure your little one drinks plenty of water during the day, serve water with snacks and meals. This can be quite a challenge. When given the choice, most kids will choose fun drinks like iced tea or soda. However, these beverages are high in sugar and aren't much help in keeping the body hydrated.

Tip: Try adding some flavour with a slice of lemon or lime, mint leaves, or strawberries. If they're still not satisfied, consider diluting juice with 50 percent water.

Older Adults
As you get older, your senses begin to dull, especially when it comes to your sense of thirst. Remind elderly loved ones to drink plenty of water throughout the day--especially in the summer heat. Remember, every time a person sweats, urinates and breathes, he or she loses water.

Tip: People who are on medication or suffer from high-blood pressure require more water. Talk with a physician to find out your optimal water consumption.

Pregnant Women
Staying hydrated is extremely important for healthy functioning of the body as the belly expands and blood volume increases. It is also vital in flushing out waste products for both mother and baby. Dehydration puts the mother at risk for constipation, early labour, and even miscarriage.

Tip: Pregnant women typically require between eight and 12 240ml glasses of water a day--and more when exercising or spending time in the sun.

Get What You Need
It's easy not to drink enough water. Here are some ways to make sure you're getting what you need.

  • You're more likely to drink water when it's available. Use a one litre reusable water bottle. Fill it in the morning and bring it to work or keep it in the car.
  • Set a timer. Pour yourself one glass of water every hour.
  • Eat water-filled foods. Watermelon and tomatoes contain about 90 percent water by weight and are great sources of vitamin C.