Q: I love hiking but struggle with staying hydrated while I'm on the trails. What's the best way for me to stay hydrated?
A: We're blessed to have amazing hiking trails in our area, and hiking is a great form of exercise. But even during an easy hike, you have to be vigilant about your fluid intake. Your first step toward proper hydration is to plan ahead. Think about the length of your hike, the amount of time you'll be on the trails and the heat and humidity levels. Bring more water than you think you'll likely consume.
It is best to start drinking water before the hike begins. Also, continually sip water while you're hiking. Sipping will help your body distribute water better, keeping you better hydrated. Reducing your caffeine intake before your hike is a good idea as caffeine is a diuretic, which increases fluid loss in the body. While water is the best option for hydration, consuming some electrolytes helps. Look for sports drinks with a low sugar content or snack on fruit while hiking.
Some warning signs of dehydration include severe thirst and dry mouth, headaches and unusual fatigue. If you notice any of these warning signs, end your hike immediately and get some fluids in your body. If your symptoms are severe, get immediate medical help.
— Dr. Eugene Ryan, Diagnostic Center; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society