With most of the UK in the midst of a mini heat wave, we wanted to highlight the impact of hydration during this time of year to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Being dehydrated can have a negative effect on our alertness and concentration, the quality of our work, even our personal safety and that of others around us. It is therefore important to prioritise hydration in order to maintain our mental and physical wellbeing.
A loss of just 2% water can cause a huge 20% reduction in the performance and our hydration status is a delicate balance, so much so that experts rank water only second to oxygen as the most essential ingredient for life. Our bodies can only last around 48 hours without water, whereas we could go a whole month without food! Water also plays a vital role in maintaining a cooler body temperature which is essential in the heat! Did you know that every day, our bodies lose between half to one litre of water every day just from breathing!? So when the hot weather is upon us, it’s essential to maintain a good level of hydration.
But in the working environment how can we monitor this and act to maintain healthy hydration levels? It is well documented that workers often do not only become dehydrated on the job, but may also start the day with a fluid deficit. It is estimated that 80% of workers go through their normal day in a mildly dehydrated state and if an employee arrives to work dehydrated, there is a 90% chance that this won’t get any better throughout the day.
And working in an air conditioned office can speed up moisture evaporation from our skin so we end up with increased water loss and the need to drink more water. The most effective strategy is to prevent dehydration by regularly taking on fluid throughout the day. The most important note here is NOT to wait until you feel thirsty before you have a drink, as this is technically the first stage of dehydration.
Other drinks such as alcohol, coffee and tea work as a diuretic. In other words, they extract water from the body. So it is best to cut out or significantly reduce the amount of fizzy drinks or caffeine that is consumed during your day. Encouraging hydration can have a positive impact on your company’s overall performance and safety record, as well as the general wellbeing and health of your staff.
So here are some top tips for keeping cool in the summer
1. In the office, try and get a good flow of air through!
A cool breeze will help take the edge off the heat and this can help with body temperature but it also has a very positive psychological effect when the weather is very hot!
2. Put your hands in cold water
Fill the sink with cold water and put your hands in as when your deep body temperature rises, blood is sent to the surface of the skin. As soon as the deep body temperature returns to normal, it slows the blood flow to your hands and you’ll feel cool.
3. Use an electric fan!
If you use a fan, make sure you direct the flow of air to your face because even though you’re not cooling down your whole body, fanning your face will appear to keep you very cool! If you are using a manual fan beware that fanning too vigorously can increase your body temperature which has the opposite effect.
4. Drink cold water regularly
Aim to have a glass of water every 90minutes to regulate body temperature and maintain hydration levels. If you are very active in your job then you might need to take water on board every 45minutes to maintain a healthy hydration level.
5. Take a lukewarm (NOT COLD) shower!
When the temperature gets really hot, it might seem tempting to stand under a freezing cold shower however the body will react by preserving heat so the best option would be a lukewarm shower when your body can release the heat.
6. Check your Urine colour!
Ok, it’s not the nicest thing to talk about but if you feel tired, get headaches or feel hungry, it’s possible this could stem from how hydrated you are. So next time you go to the toilet check the colour, if it’s clear (like water) that’s great, if it’s a yellowy/darker colour then you need to take on more water! See the hydration chart below to see where you are today!