Did you know that dehydration occurs as easily in the winter months as it does in the summer? Shorter days and colder weather may have you fooled. Although you perspire more in summer workouts, the dry, cold air of winter can make you lose excess water each time you exhale, in the form of water vapor. This effect is even more pronounced at higher altitudes, whether you’re skiing or simply sitting. Let’s address your hydration habits in the winter.
Focus on Your Water Intake
The best athletes minimize the impact of external factors, such as adverse weather conditions, during competition. In the winter, this means boosting your water consumption when cold weather can cause excessive dehydration. Winter can accelerate dehydration because humans undergo vasoconstriction in the cold to maintain body temperature. During vasoconstriction, your blood vessels shrink, elevating your blood pressure. As a result, your kidneys will make more urine to lower your blood pressure back to baseline and you lose water in the process.
Behavioral patterns in winter can also make it difficult to stay hydrated. People consume more hot beverages that act as diuretics, like coffee or tea. If you want a hot beverage, opt for decaffeinated coffee or tea, or even hot water. It’s also easier to maintain a hydrated state when your meals include high-water content foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. Simply carrying a water bottle throughout the day will remind you to drink water before you get thirsty.
Hydrate to Minimize Sickness
During cold and flu season, staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do to minimize your chances of getting sick. You are less susceptible to catching a bug when your immune system is fully supported in a hydrated state. If you do get sick, drinking fluids is one of your primary tools to accelerate your recovery.
The key to staying hydrated is staying ahead of your thirst. Once thirsty, your body is already on its way to a dehydrated state. Cut back on high-salt foods while adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Balance out your hot beverages with greater water intake, and make sure to always have a water bottle handy! As always, drink fluids before, during, and after workout. These simple changes in the winter months will leave you feeling more energetic and ready to perform.
If you liked learning about how athletes should hydrate in the winter season, be sure to check out this BridgeAthletic post on ways to boost your energy!