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National Hydration Day- Tips for Staying Hydrated

glass of waterIn the Panhandle of Florida, we are starting to get into the heat of the summer. With temperatures soaring, your sweat is going to start pouring. It is extremely important  to replace the fluids lost through sweating. In this article we will cover what hydrated versus dehydrated means, why it is important, and tips on how to stay hydrated in the Florida heat.

What is Hydration, and Why Does it Matter?

Hydration is the process of introducing our body to additional fluid (i.e. water). Dehydration is when you have used or lost more fluid that you are taking in. Your body is unable to continue functioning properly without fluids. Staying hydrated may seem like a difficult task, but it is extremely important for us to stay hydrated for optimal health and performance throughout the day. “Drinking enough water each day is crucial for many reasons: to regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly. Being well hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood.” (1) Without staying hydrated, we can seriously harm ourselves. Whether you are considered youth or an adult, you can still lose approximately 40 percent (2) of your body’s water during hard work or exercise.

How to Stay Hydrated

  1. Drink lots of fluids:   Don’t wait till you are or feel thirsty to drink. By the time that you feel this, you are already slightly dehydrated. It is important to drink fluids, preferably water, throughout the day. During the summer, while it is hot, it should be a top priority to replenish fluids lost in our body. A good way to start the day is by drinking a glass of water when you wake up and get your body going. Fluids are fluids, but some fluids are better for us than others. When replenishing the fluids that we have lost through sweating, make sure that it is mainly from water. Some of the fluids can also be from flavored water, tea, or coffee. Try not to consume as many sugar-sweetened beverages, as many of them act as a diuretic. The sugar found in these drinks tends to draw the water out of your cells, making you feel thirsty a short time after drinking it. The sugar drawing the water out of cells will also make you need to urinate more quickly, therefore losing even more fluid. Something “punny” for this National Hydration Day: No matter how much soda I drink, I’m still so thirsty… I must be “soda-hydrated!”
  2. Eat Fuel Foods: Make sure that you are fueling body with the appropriate foods. Certain fruits and vegetables contain a large amount of water. Examples of water-rich fruits are: watermelon (its in the name!), strawberries, peaches, and pineapples. Some examples of vegetables with a high water content are: Cucumbers, leafy green (i.e. lettuce), celery, and tomatoes. Foods that are highly processed tend to be dehydrated and have lots of sugar or salt, which dehydrates you more.
  3. Look at the Weather: Stay inside when it gets too hot outside and when it is extremely humid. The sun is at its peak between 10 am and 2 pm every day, meaning that that is when it will be hottest outside. Plan necessary outdoor activities for the early morning or later in the evening. The higher the humidity, the more you are going to sweat.
  4. How to Dress: Make sure that you dress for the weather, appropriately. Loose fitting clothing allows your skin to breathe, keeping your body cooler. Lighter shades do not absorb the heat like dark colors. Wear a wide brimmed hat to keep your head cool. Also, use plenty of sunscreen. Getting sunburned is not just uncomfortable, it can also increase your skins’ temperature, making it hard to stay cool.

Signs of Dehydration:  Be aware of the signs of dehydration. As stated in number one, do not wait for the signs of dehydration to begin drinking fluids. Some of the signs of dehydration include but are not limited to: dark or smelly urine, vomiting, bad breath, dry mouth, irritability, confusion, and fatigue.  If you are dehydrated or have lost a lot of fluid through sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea please seek medical attention.

Some Tips for Staying Hydrated

I have a hard time getting myself to drink plenty of fluids, so below are a few tips that I try to follow to keep myself properly hydrated.

  1. Keep a bottle or glass of water by your bed. While you are sleeping, your body is not receiving any fluids, so it is becoming slightly dehydrated. Having water close by the bed means you do not have to get up and disrupt your sleep.
  2. Purchase a reusable water bottle. If you have a reusable glass or metal water bottle, you can keep it with you all the time. If you have easy access to water, you are more likely to drink it.
  3. Flavor your water. Plain water can become boring if you drink it all the time. Flavor your water with some fresh fruit or a flavoring packet.
  4. Try to drink at least 8 glasses of “good” fluids every day. Water is extremely good for you, but you can also consume clear broth, tea, coffee, or sports drinks. This will help prevent water from becoming boring. Just make sure that you limit the intake of caffeine and alcohol.
  5. Check the color of your urine. Believe it or not, this can be an good indicator as to whether you are hydrated or not. The paler, or more clear, your urine is, the more hydrated you are. If the urine you pass is darker, yellow or even orange, you are more than likely dehydrated.
  6. Download an app. There are apps on our phones for everything now-a-days. There are apps that can send you notifications to drink more water. Some of these apps are also capable of recording how much you drink.

Staying hydrated is extremely important, especially now that we are facing the “dog-days” of summer. Drink lots of fluids, but do not wait till you feel thirsty. The more that you sweat, the more fluids you need to take in. Download this hydration tip sheet to remember to stay hydrated!

Sources:

 

Make Mindfulness a Resolution for 2021!

Holidays can be stressful under normal circumstances, but 2020 has been far from normal!  Mindfulness can help you improve your focus, manage stress, develop a positive outlook, and resolve conflict. Together, these all help you do a better job regulating emotions. Developing a mindfulness practice could be a great new year’s resolution as we look forward to 2021!  Last month’s Virtual Volunteer Leadership Academy webinar focused on helping volunteers develop a mindfulness practice.

There are three key features of mindfulness:

  • Purpose- intentionally directing your attention rather than letting it wander
  • Presence- being fully engaged and attentive at the present moment
  • Acceptance- being nonjudgmental about whatever arises in the moment. In other words, not fretting over what you should be doing or what you should have done, rather focusing on what you can do in the present.

To learn specific strategies for developing a mindfulness practice around these features, watch our webinar below, or check out some of the resources linked below.

UF IFAS Extension Factsheet “Introduction to Mindfulness”

National 4-H Council’s Kids Guide to Mindfulness 

Why Horses?

Why Horses?

Individuals gathered around horses at a show.

A 4-H family gathered together at a show.

Are you looking for another way that you can aid your child in becoming a healthy well-adjusted adult? You help can them by allowing them to enter a relationship with a horse. Most kids are naturally drawn to horses and may benefit greatly in what they can gain from them. Some life skills learned from caring for equine are character building, healthy living, leadership skills, and responsibility, just to name a few. Plus, if your child is out at the barn caring for their horse, they are less likely to be stuck on their phones on the couch. Therefore, their physical health will benefit from doing chores and riding as well. Horseback riding offers many aerobic-exercise benefits such as building muscles, boosting balance, and increasing coordination and flexibility. Lifting saddles, water buckets, and cleaning require physical movement as well as gives a sense of self accomplishment of “I can do this all by myself.” When youth are responsible for the care of a horse, it teaches them to put others needs above their own and they learn empathy.

Youth sitting on horse

Emily, 4-H member, sitting on her horse, Slyder.

Did you know 4-H has a horse program? The goal of the program is to teach and provide young people with an opportunity to participate in activities that foster the love for the animal and achieve their goals. The activities are designed to improve citizenship, sportsmanship, horsemanship, character, competitive spirit, and discipline while making youth aware of life around them. When thinking about the 4-H horse program, there is the potential for participation in horse judging, public speaking, demonstrations, hippology and quiz bowl. Participation in these activities can help a youth improve in many areas to gain a better education and they don’t have to necessarily have a horse. There is also horse showing for those who own a horse. Showing equine will connect youth from all over the world as horse family while teaching them to prepare, build the courage to compete, enjoy the rewards and deal with disappointments. Hopefully, the disappointments will drive them to succeed and work harder while furthering their leadership skills. Afterall, taking control of a thousand-pound animal to work through challenging tasks will require skills that promote a child’s self-competence.

If you are looking for something new to spark an interest in your child, consider the 4-H equine project.  Horses are fun, help teach great life skills, and kids adore them. They will keep youth positively engaged during their difficult years from pre-teen and into adulthood. If you are unsure of what your county has to offer in the way of equine 4-H programs, give your local UF IFAS County Extension Office a call and they will help you or connect you with someone in the field or visit http://florida4h.org.

*“Please note pictures were taken prior to our challenges with Covid-19 and we remind people to social distance and wear a mask for the personal safety of self and others.”

Finding Treasure by Stepping Outside!

Finding Treasure by Stepping Outside!

Youth holding up picture

4-H Virtual Plant Science Camp Bingo Game

July 6th of this year was supposed to be the first day of our 4-H Wildlife and Outdoor Recreation Day Camp with Leon and Jefferson Counties participating.  Due to the pandemic, all of our Florida 4-H face to face camps were cancelled this summer due to safety concerns for the students and the instructors.

In spite of everything that has taken place since March of this year, there is still some good news! Even though we are in the middle of a pandemic, there is an outdoor classroom in YOUR backyard that has plenty of room for young people and parents to explore. While most youth have spent more time than they probably want to with their families confined, within the four walls of their home, there is no time like the present to explore wildlife and gardening opportunities that await just outside the door. Youth that spend time outside exploring the great outdoors have the unique opportunity to stimulate their senses while engaging in “hands on” educational activities without even knowing it.

4-H provides countless opportunities for youth to gain a better understanding of how all organisms are interrelated and how they can become environmental stewards at home, school, and in the communities in which they live.  What are some of the benefits of converting backyards to outdoor classrooms?

I’m glad you asked…here are just a few!

 

1. Healthy lifestyles are encouraged –
2 kids planting a tree

Youth planting an orange tree after participating in Virtual Plant Science Camp

Active time spent outside may help address some of the health issues we are seeing in children today such as obesity, attention deficit disorders, and depression.

2. Nature deficit disorder decline –

Exposing students to nature and allowing them to learn and play outside has shown to foster sensitivity, appreciation, and respect for the environment.  It combats “nature deficit disorder” …and it can be a lot of FUN!

3. Critical-thinking skills enhanced –

Exploring what is in the backyard and starting a garden provides opportunities for experiential learning outside of the classroom and enables students to make connections that can be applied to the real world.

4. Responsible action is taken to better the environment –

By exploring outdoors either by planting or just observing nature, youth begin to understand how their decisions and actions affect the environment. It is from this point they can begin to obtain the skills necessary to address complex environmental issues as well as ways we can take action to keep our environment healthy and sustainable for the future.

 

So even though we are in the midst of a pandemic, there may be opportunities to make lemonade out of the  COVID-19 lemons we find ourselves in by unmasking the opportunities that await in our backyards!

For more information about 4-H in your county, find your local UF/IFAS Extension office or visit http://florida4h.org.

*“Please note some pictures were taken prior to our challenges with Covid-19 and we remind people to social distance and wear a mask for the personal safety of self and others.”

Volunteering Roles In A Changing World

Volunteering Roles In A Changing World

The uniqueness of today brings forth a changing world with new opportunities to grow.  Individuals are seeking ways to help make positive changes in themselves, in each other, and in their communities.  One way people are finding to make these changes is through volunteering their time, skills, and support with 4-H.  4-H volunteers are the caring adult role models that utilize a learn-by-doing approach to help youth evolve into more creative, independent, and forward thinking leaders.

4-H volunteers serve in a variety of capacities based on their interests, skills, and time constraints. Some serve as club leaders for our local 4-H clubs. Other volunteers help with organizing events, judging competitive events, and serving as advisors on boards and committees.  Because 4-H offers such a wide variety of events and activities, there are opportunities that can fit every individual’s personal goals, schedules, and needs.

New World, New Opportunities

Opportunities for people to volunteer have evolved even further in today’s world.  Everyone has always considered volunteering as an “in-person” role.  Although the in-person volunteer is still very much in demand and invaluable to the 4-H organization, another volunteer role has emerged – the virtual volunteer.  With the covid-19 pandemic, the role of the virtual volunteer has made it possible for many more individuals that normally could not volunteer in-person, be able to contribute their talents and time.  Whereas covid-19 may have restricted physical distancing, the internet has removed geographical limitations and opened doors to new volunteer roles for a larger, more diverse audience.

The virtual 4-H volunteer is an exciting alternate opportunity for many.  The goals of creating a safe environment, promoting a sense of belonging, and teaching youth essential life skills are still the primary goals of the virtual 4-H volunteer.  The only main difference in opportunity is the delivery mode.  Through new, modernized delivery modes such as virtual club meetings, social media outlets, and pre-recorded sessions, the traditional 4-H program has become more current and efficient for the modern youth and his/her family as well as the volunteers, allowing additional opportunities to expand the 4-H program.  Some 4-H programs have been converted to online programs to continue providing quality programming and meet the needs of all individuals.  4-H has been and continues to be a program that is available to young people in all U.S. states, U.S. territories and U.S. military installations worldwide, regardless of gender, race, creed, color, religion, or disability.  Regardless if an individual chooses to become an in-person or virtual 4-H volunteer, the mission of every 4-H volunteer is the same – to help ignite a spark in each youth to find what inspires them in order to carry out 4-H’s belief in “making the best better.”

It’s Time to Become a 4-H Volunteer!

There is no need to let the pandemic stop you from engaging in giving back when you have the opportunity to make a difference in your own community –in-person or virtually!  4-H is always seeking positive adult role models to serve in a variety of ways.  Volunteers have the flexibility to determine the amount of time given, location and subject area they prefer.  Volunteers will receive full assistance from their local 4-H Office to include trainings, office support, resources, and materials.

To learn more about becoming a 4-H volunteer, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org.

*“Please note some pictures were taken prior to our challenges with Covid-19 and we remind people to social distance and wear a mask for the personal safety of self and others.”

 

 

Let Freedom Ring

Let Freedom Ring

American Flags along a curb

Celebrate our Freedom

The boom of fireworks, an outdoor concert, a lively parade, the smell of hot dogs on the grill, sweet cold watermelon slices, and a day spent with friends and family, for many, this is what the Fourth of July means. We get so busy enjoying the celebration that we often forget to stop and reflect what the holiday is about.

The Fourth of July is a celebration of independence from British rule and the formation of America. The holiday has been celebrated since 1776 and became an official federal holiday in 1870. The succession from British rule and creation of the Declaration of Independence would not be possible without the formation of a military. In the United States, we are fortunate to still enjoy the freedoms awarded though the Revolutionary War (and military) and work of the Continental Congress. These Founding Fathers of the U.S. paved the way for independence, but our dedicated service members and their families work every day to ensure that our freedom and independence continues. No one loves their country more than a Soldier, Airman, Marine, Coast Guardsman or Sailor; they are willing to sacrifice all to protect and preserve our freedom. They are passionate about their mission and give all they can to serve the U.S. and her citizens.

In a discussion of what Independence Day means to military members, SSgt. Quade, USMC (Vet), states “Military wide, Independence Day is one of the most quintessential days of the year. Not only because of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but that signature represents the freedoms and liberties that were fought for by all brothers and sisters of all branches and earned through blood, sweat, and tears.” It was interesting to hear his perspective and learn that Independence Day is celebrated all over the world by U.S. Military members – maybe not always with fireworks, but a group picnic-style lunch with hotdogs and hamburgers.

We also have to recognize the many sacrifices made by the military members that affect their family, such as missed birthdays, holidays, family functions, and milestones. What makes the time away tolerable is knowing that back home the active duty spouse is stepping up to the plate and taking care of the family. Children assume different roles within the family to help keep the household running and provide support. Military families are resilient and fluid, adjusting to relocation and changes in family dynamics.

This year, as you celebrate the Fourth of July, I hope you enjoy fireworks, grilled hot dogs, and a cold slice of watermelon. During your celebration, I encourage you to take a moment and thank military members and their families, many who are 4-H members, for their efforts and sacrifices in protecting our freedoms so we can enjoy independence every day.

UF/IFAS Extension and 4-H are proud to be a part of the military family – 4-H works with military youth centers across the nation and overseas to create some consistency for youth in these situations.  For more information about the 4-H opportunities available in your county, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.

Special thanks to Jennifer Sims, 4-H Military Partnership Coordinator, UF/IFAS Bay County, for providing this article and picture.