Staying Hydrated


Your body uses the water in beverages and foods to stay hydrated.

A recent study found that men and women ages 20-39 consume close to the recommended amount of water per day.

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009-2012.

Did you know? Consuming inadequate amounts of water can contribute to poorer cognitive performance.

Sources: Grandjean, A.C. & Grandjean, N.R. (October 26, 2007) Dehydration and cognitive performance. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Supplement: 549S-554S.

Basic Information

Basic Information

Your body is made up of about 60% water. Your body depends on water to help:

  • Keep your body temperature normal
  • Deliver nutrients and oxygen to cells
  • Eliminate waste through perspiration, urine and bowels
  • Lubricate and cushion joints
  • Protect and lubricate organs and tissues

You need more water:

  • In hot weather
  • With physical activity
  • When you are running a fever
  • If you are vomiting or having diarrhea

Dehydration can lead to:

  • Muscle fatigue
  • Loss of coordination
  • High body temperature
  • Heat related problems such as cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke
  • Decrease in energy and athletic performance

It’s important to drink enough water or other liquids to stay hydrated.

Being hydrated helps you to be able to keep your energy up during physical activity.

How much water do you need?

Water needs vary by age, body size, weather, activity, and other factors. When you are thirsty, drink up. This is a sign that your body is low on water.

Follow daily hydration guidelines based upon your age and gender. 

2004 Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences Hydration Guidelines

14-18 years14 cups (3.3 L) total water, including ~11 cups (2.6 L ) as total beverages, including drinking water.9 cups (2.1L) total water, including ~7 cups (1.6 L) as total beverages, including drinking water.
19-70+ years16 cups (3.7 L) total water, including ~13 cups (3 L) as total beverages, including drinking water.11.5 cups (2.7 L) total water, including ~9 cups (2.2 L) as total beverages, including drinking water.

* 1 cup equals 8 fluid ounces (~240 ml). Figures rounded up to the nearest 10 ml.
** "Total water " includes fluids from all foods and beverages consumed.

Exercise and Fluid Replacement Guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine

Before exercise:

  • Drink 16-20 fluid ounce of water or sports beverage at least four hours before exercise.
  • Drink 8-12 fluid ounces of water 10-15 minutes before exercise.
  • Weigh yourself before exercise and record your weight so that you can determine water losses after your exercise session.

During exercise:

  • Drink 3-8 fluid ounces of water every 15-20 minutes for exercise session lasting 60 minutes or less.
  • Drink 3-8 fluid ounces of a sports beverage every 15-20 minutes for exercise sessions lasting more than 60 minutes.
  • Choose sports beverages that contain 5-8 % carbohydrate with electrolytes.

After exercise:

  • Weigh yourself and estimate your fluid losses. Replace fluid losses within two hours after exercise.
  • Drink 20-24 fluid ounces of water or sports beverage for every one pound of weight lost during exercise.
Tips for staying Hydrated
  1. Always have a bottle of water handy. Keep a bottle in a backpack or purse at all times to ensure adequate access to water.
  2. Know the environment. If the outdoor temperature is hot, drink extra fluids to account for water lost while sweating and to keep body temperature regulated.
  3. Drinks that are caffeinated like coffee or tea, and drinks that contain alcohol, can dehydrate the body so always replenish with water after consuming these beverages.
  4. Try to stay in the shade as much as possible.
  5. Don’t rely on thirst for hydration status because it is usually a later sign that can indicate dehydration. Drink fluids consistently.