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How Much Water Should I Drink?

Parents should make sure that children and teens are getting adequate hydration throughout the day. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children drink plenty of fluids before starting any exercise and continue to drink during physical activity.

During exercise, the AAP suggests drinking about 3-8 ounces of water every 20 minutes for children 9-12 and about 34-50 ounces per hour for adolescent boys and girls.

Athletes need to take precautions to avoid dehydration. White recommends drinking 16 ounces one hour prior to exercise, 4-8 ounces every 15 minutes during exercise, and another 16 ounces an hour after exercise. The amounts can vary depending on your personal response, heat index, and the type of activity.

"If you're sweating, you're losing water," says Nancy Clark, MS, RD, sports dietitian in Chestnut Hill, Mass., and author of Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook.

How can you tell if you're getting enough fluids during the day? You can tell by checking your urine color and output. If you're urinating every two to four hours, the output is light-colored, and there's significant volume, then you're probably well-hydrated.

"That's a very simple, easy way to monitor hydration," says Clark. "If you go from 8 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon without peeing, then you're dehydrated."

Signs of Dehydration

How can you tell if you're dehydrated? You might feel tired, cranky, moody, or get a headache. "As the body gets dehydrated, the heart has to work harder to pump blood through the vessels," explains Clark.

To get a better handle on your hydration levels, White recommends keeping a water log. "Everyone tracks food. How often do we track our water intake?" he asks.

For techie types, there are free apps that pop up with water reminders throughout the day. Whatever method works best for you, drink up and stay well hydrated.