Raise your hand if you fill every hot, sunny, summer day with as many outdoor activities as possible. Staying active and taking advantage of our numbered summertime days is a big priority for most Minnesotans, and proper hydration is essential to maintaining your health and energy levels during your outdoor adventures!

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The amount of water a person needs to stay hydrated varies by the individual, outdoor temperature, clothes you wear, and type of exercise you perform (American Heart Association).  A simple trick to figure out how much water you need to drink during outdoor activities is to weigh yourself before and after you exercise; every pound you lose equals a pint of water you need to drink (American Heart Association). The easiest way to tell when you need to drink water is when you feel thirsty. This is your body’s way of telling you that you might be dehydrated, so be sure to listen!

When it comes to staying hydrated all day long, there are different ways to give your body the fluid it needs to function properly. Creating a good water drinking habit is the best way to keep your body functioning at its best. An easy way to remember to drink water throughout the day is to invest in a water bottle that you can keep on you at all times. Another trick to staying hydrated, especially if drinking water is a struggle for you, is to eat foods with a high water content; i.e., watermelon, cherries, cucumbers, and tomatoes (Health).

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Even with these tips in mind, you should still be aware of the signs of dehydration for yourself and/or your kids. There are three stages of dehydration: mild, moderate, and severe. Symptoms of mild and/or moderate dehydration include: thirst, dry mouth, dark urine, headache, and muscle cramps (WebMD). Signs of severe hydration include: not urinating, dizziness, rapid heartbeat and breathing, sunken eyes, lack of energy, confusion, and fainting (WebMD). If you have young children, the signs and symptoms can vary a bit, so be sure to watch for a lack of tears when they cry, dry diapers for 3+ hours, and sunken eyes or cheeks.

Armed with this knowledge, you can confidently enjoy long days out in the sun with your family this summer! Just remember to pack a cooler with many hydration options, and have a designated shady area where you can rest and stay out of the sun for a bit.