Why Staying Hydrated Through Winter Is So Important to Your Health
People tend to think of dehydration as a summer issue exacerbated by seasonal heat. However, you can actually become dehydrated just as easily, if not more so, during the chilly winter months. Your body’s natural thirst sensitivity is lower in the winter, meaning you may not feel as compelled to sip water as you do during the summer. Combine that with dry air, from both outdoor conditions and indoor heaters, and you have increased potential for damaging dehydration. Proper hydration is critical, even when you may not feel the urge to have a glass of water. This is true for everyone, but becomes especially important for athletes and those who exercise.
Winter: The Perfect Storm for Dehydration
Winter conditions can be draining in many ways, and a reduced sense of thirst doesn’t help to restore your vitality. Believe it or not, sweat evaporates faster in cold air. The cold and dry winter air can also actively sap your skin of its natural moisture. Most of us bundle up to fend off the cold, which in turn adds weight that makes your body work harder during daily activity. This means even more sweat and more moisture loss. Poor hydration is a serial contributor to many health concerns, including fatigue, urinary issues, and decreased physical performance with longer recovery times.
How to Maintain Proper Hydration
If you’re exercising outdoors, wear several layers of clothing. This way, you can remove pieces as you heat up, reducing the amount of moisture lost to excessive sweating. In addition to staying on top of your daily recommended fluid intake, remain vigilant about drinking water and sports drinks to replace what you lose during exercise. Try drinking room temperature water, which can be easier for the body to absorb than cold beverages. Try to supplement your fluid intake by snacking on plenty of fruit, which can also provide a short-term energy boost from their natural sugars and carbohydrates. Milk (or even the occasional mug of chocolate milk or hot cocoa!) can provide your body with protein, some fat, minerals such as calcium, and vitamins such as vitamin D.
Finally, remember that both alcohol and caffeine are diuretics, meaning they can contribute to dehydration. Take care to increase your fluid intake by one glass of water for each caffeinated or alcoholic drink you have. Your body will thank you!