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We’re entering the final weeks of spring, folks. The bluebonnets are reaching their full bloom in Texas. Graduation is fast approaching in schools across the state. And summer is just around the corner. For weather-weary Texans, that means one big thing: It’s going to get very hot in the not-so-distant future.

You all know the drill: Temperatures will be climbing into the 80s and 90s in June, then soaring into the 100s come July. Each year it’s a bit daunting as summer draws closer, but we’ve got good news. You can still spend time outdoors and stay hydrated with some simple hints and tricks.

From drinking enough water to dressing appropriately, there are easy steps you can take to keep healthy, hydrated, and (relatively) cool this summer. Here goes:

Stay hydrated during hot summer months

Did you know that up to 60% of our bodies are water? It’s true, we’re more water than not, and water is one of the most essential elements for many bodily processes and functions. To name a couple: healthy blood circulation and protection of vital organs. When it gets really hot outside, like in Texas during the summer, the best thing we can do for our bodies to remain healthy is to drink more water.

How much water should you drink?

Everyone’s daily water intake needs vary depending on several factors. Age, weight, medical conditions, and other variables all affect your ability to stay hydrated. But as a good rule of thumb, you should drink one cup of water every 20 minutes when you’re being active out in the heat.

People often make the mistake of only drinking when they become thirsty. Experts recommend that you drink water before heading out for your activity, rather than making your body play catch up.

Be sure to choose the right fluids

Many people think the best way to stay hydrated is by chugging sports drinks, like Gatorade or Vitamin Water. Truth is, you’re much better off drinking plain water. Sports drinks typically contain a lot of sugar, sodium, and calories that are not ideal for hydration or general wellbeing. On these hot days, opt for a clean, refreshing glass of water to quench your thirst and replenish your body.

Steer clear of the wrong fluids

Some beverage choices can really dehydrate you in the summer. Drinks with alcohol or high sodium and sugar content tend to pull water from the body, removing fluid from your tissues. A few popular drinks you might want to avoid on hotter days include:

  • Sodas
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeinated drinks (depending on how accustomed your body is to caffeine intake)

Eat foods high in water content

Yep, eating can help keep you hydrated. You might be surprised that about 20% of your essential water comes from the foods you eat. Get your daily dose of whole fruits and vegetables to ensure healthy hydration. For optimal benefit, snack on the following foods throughout the day during the summer months:

  • Leafy greens
  • Cucumbers
  • Bell peppers
  • Watermelon
  • Berries
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Grapefruit
  • Tomatoes

Of course, you’ll stay better hydrated as a result of consuming these foods, but you’ll also get all the lasting health perks: added vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and nutrients to improve your overall health.

Wear light clothing

A critical component to staying hydrated is regulating your body temperature. Texas heat can affect you more quickly than you realize. To reduce your risk for heat exhaustion, wear clothes that are lightweight and loose-fitting. Select light colors, too, rather than darker options.

Plan your time outdoors

If you can swing it, plan to go outdoors when the heat is not quite so relentless. Spend time outside in the evening or early morning hours to avoid the hottest parts of the day and prevent overheating.

If you have to be out in the middle of the day, try to spend as much time as possible in the shade. For example, if you’re reading (or texting) at the park, get under that oak tree. If you’re walking a few miles, get on the side of the street with the treeline.

And for all the hikers out there: there are a bunch of awesome, shady trails you should hit up this summer. Here’s a quick list of trails to get you started.

Cool off by taking a dip in the water

Texas is beloved for its cool, pristine swimming holes, especially in the summer months. From spring-fed rivers to beautiful lakes, there is an abundance of refreshing water outlets throughout the Lone Star State. Spend the day by the cold water, soak in some sun, and take a dip to cool off whenever you get too hot.

Know the symptoms of dehydration

Hopefully, with all of these tips, you’ll be well-hydrated and feeling healthy all summer long. But just in case, these are some signs of dehydration you should be on the lookout for:

Mild symptoms:

  • Thirst
  • Dark yellow or amber-colored urine
  • Decreased urine output
  • Muscle cramps
  • Constipation

Severe symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Dry skin
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dry mouth, lips, and tongue
  • Sunken eyes
  • Confusion or irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

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