Fill 'er up: Properly hydrating in the SC summer

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - If it ever stops raining this summer, chances are good you will be spending plenty of time outside exercising or working out in the heat.

And staying properly hydrated in these South Carolina summers isn't as easy as you think.

"Everybody has different sweat rates, everybody loses different amounts of salt," said Prof. Jim Carson, an exercise science professor at USC's Public Health Research Center. "It's affected by age, sex, and a lot of other factors."

Due to the fact it is an inexact science and some don't have a full understanding of proper hydration, Carson says getting people to fill up on plenty of fluids is no easy task.

"How many glasses of water do you need a day? Everybody will say eight. That's just a marketing campaign by water companies. There's no science on that," said Carson. "It's very difficult to know how much somebody needs to drink. But you do know this. You are going to lose water and electrolytes working vigorously in the heat."

You don't have to be an elite athlete to fill up the right way. Whether you're a weekend warrior, going for a run, or working out in the garden, you have already lost the battle if you wait until you get outside to stock up on fluids.

Start drinking water the day before if you know you'll be exercising, practicing or simply working outside in the heat.

"If you just drink a lot of fluid, you're just going to go to the bathroom," said Carson. "So it needs to be moderate amounts of fluid over time."

Sports drinks with electrolytes and carbohydrates are your best bets to replace vital nutrients in the middle of your workouts or that honey-do list out in the yard, However, plain old water certainly isn't going to hurt if it's all you can get your hands on.

"Ultimately, you don't want a cardiac event or some other thing due to the heat and the combination of fluid loss because it does put more stress on the cardiovascular system," said Carson.

After your long day in the heat is done,a trip to the kitchen is what keeps you going strong. Pair up the drink of your choice, as long as it isn't an alcoholic beverage, with a well-balanced meal and you should be able to properly re-hydrate your system because it will contain plenty of salt, which you are bound to lose when you're melting away in the triple-digit South Carolina heat.

There is still some debate over sports drinks with caffeine in them. Jim Carson says caffeine alone will not dehydrate you. In fact, it may help you perform better if you're an athlete. That's why high amounts of it are banned in athletic competition.

But, it certainly isn not a necessity to get yourself hydrated. So the bottom line is fill up on the good stuff and be careful.