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Staying Hydrated This Summer

Whether it is mowing the lawn, working in the garden, baling hay, or two a day’s sports practice, we spend a lot of time outdoors in the summer months. When you are outside in the heat, it is important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. We need fluids to keep our bodies properly cooled. Without ample water, you can experience muscle cramping, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. 

How do you know how much fluid you need? Children need from 4 to 11 cups of total water (total beverages, including water) a day. Adults need from 9 to 13 cups of total water (total beverages, including water) a day. The amount depends on your age, gender, level of physical activity, altitude and climate. During hot weather, you will need more, but do not go by thirst alone. To prevent dehydration, it is important to drink plenty of water and other fluids throughout the day, even before going outdoors. One way to tell if you are drinking enough fluids is to check the color of your urine. Your urine shouldbe light yellow in color. If it is a dark color, you need to drink more water.

Be conscious about drinking enough water. Although we all know that water is essential, stress the importance of water to others around you, including children. It is a good idea to drink two cups of fluid two hours before practice or outdoor activities, to promote adequate hydration. It is also a good idea for coaches to mandate players to drink about four liters of fluid during practice; otherwise they may not drink enough. Larger volumes of fluid intake during exercise are associated with greater cardiac output, greater skin blood flow, lower core temperature, and a reduced rating of perceived exertion. 

When taking in fluids, only use water or sports drinks. Avoid caffeinated, highly sweetened and carbonated beverages. These have the potential to dehydrate and contribute to nausea. Water is great for the purpose of re-hydration, but sports drinks are designed to make you want to drink more. Children will drink more sport drinks than they will water because it has more taste and contains salt, which increases their thirst. 

It is important to understand the symptoms of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The symptoms of heat exhaustion are dizziness; cold, clammy skin; nausea and headaches. The symptoms of heat stroke are high body temperature and dry skin; confusion; and unconsciousness. People suffering from heatstroke will feel chilly and have tingling arms and goosebumps. If you feel these symptoms, get out of the heat and seek immediate medical treatment. Begin cooling down with ice baths or other means.

Please do not ignore your body in this heat. Plan for your fluid intake before you go outside. Too much exposure to the heat combined with dehydration could be fatal for you or someone you love. Be sure you take plenty of breaks and drink plenty of water

Written By Addie Wilson, County Extension Director, N.C. Cooperative Extension, Yadkin County Center

The Steps to Health Program strongly encourages families to make mealtime, family time.  October is Eat Better, Eat Together Month. This month join the national movement to eat more meals as a family.

Eating meals together is a great opportunity to catch up on what’s happening at school, work, etc. Today’s busy lifestyles make it seem impossible to share meals as a family but set a goal to share at least one meal a day.

Planning meals ahead of time is the key to success. Select a day and time when all of the family members can plan meals for the week together. Incorporate everyone’s ideas into the planning. Be sure to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy, as well as, lean meats. Next, check the refrigerator and cupboards to see which items you already have for the week’s meals. Write a shopping list for the items that you need. Involving children in this process can help develop their reading, writing, and organizational skills. Take your shopping list to the grocer and stick to purchasing only the items on the list. Now, you are ready for the week!

Allow the children to help prepare the meal by completing cooking tasks based on their age and ability. They can also help set the table. Remember, clean-up is everyone’s responsibility.


Written by Cheri Bennett, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, North Carolina Cooperative Extension

Between all the fun summer activities, outdoor and in, it can be hard to fit in healthy meals and snacks.

Snacking is easy and quick, but some snacks can leave you hungry again in no time. That's why it is important to choose balanced snacks!

Balanced snacks contain different MyPlate food groups that help provide sustainable and lasting energy.  Including different food groups in your snacks adds a variety of important nutrients. With a little planning, a balanced snack can still be easy and quick on the go to provide energy for all your summer fun!  A balanced snack will help keep you satisfied for longer, and will contribute to your recommended daily allowance of a variety of nutrients!

Snack smarter:

  • Choose foods from at least 3 of the MyPlate food groups to create a balanced snack.

Snack on the go:

  • Some foods need to be kept cool if being held out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours.
    • Freeze a water bottle to use as an ice pack to chill your foods - then when the bottle thaws, you can drink it to hydrate too!

Snack yummier:

  • A balanced snack can be any number of combos! Try:
    • Cheese stick, whole grain crackers, apple slices
    • Hummus, carrots, tortilla chips
    • Popcorn, berries, dark chocolate chips
    • Yogurt, granola, banana

From the Carolina Hunger Initiative in collaboration with No Kid Hungry



The end of the year is an exciting time, but it also brings about new sources of stress that might not be around for the rest of the year.

It is a great time to practice ways to reduce stress especially before the busy holiday season begins.

  • Remember to schedule time for physical activity. Write it down on your calendar so you are able to make time for it.
  • Try to include some activity into holiday parties. It can be dancing, hiking, games, and more!
  • Take some time for yourself during the holidays. This can be taking 10 minutes to sneak away from family, or running an errand by yourself.

Make sure to have fun and laugh often! We often look back and the holidays flew by quickly, try to find something to enjoy and laugh about every day!  There are many ways to fit a quick 30 minutes of physical activity into the day.

  • Try a morning walk before the day gets busy
  • Search YouTube for a beginner’s level yoga class that the whole family can enjoy
  • Turn on your favorite music and have a dance party
  • Put together an after-dinner family-friendly football game outside
  • Take a nature ‘scavenger hike’. Make a list for things to look for such as pretty leaves, pinecones, acorns and more!
  • Play a game inside that involves movement: Heads-up, charades, Simon-says

What are some other ways you and your family like to be active?