Dehydration is a concern for active people all year ‘round, not just in the hot summer months. Winter activities, however, pose different challenges to stay properly hydrated. Understand that dehydration occurs when fluid loss equals greater than 2% of your total body weight. That can actually be easy to do even in the winter months since while participating in winter sports, you may not get over heated and not think to drink as often as you do in summer months.
Add the contributing factors of household and office heat systems, causing drier air indoors, you stand a chance of already being a bit dehydrated even before you begin your activities.
While participating in winter sports, you are at risk of not “feeling” thirsty because you feel 40 percent less thirsty in the cold than when you’re warm. You also sweat less and that can lead some people to believe they don’t need more fluids.
If you are not careful to re-hydrate as your body loses fluids, your body expends extra energy to send blood to the skin and produce sweat. The effects of this is lower fluids in your bloodstream, making it ineffectual at delivering much needed oxygen-rich blood to your hard working muscles, lungs and vital organs
This is confirmed for you when you experience muscle cramps, but more serious symptoms are fatigue, mental confusion, which are not things you want to risk experiencing out on the trail in the back country or at the top of a mountain skiing.
How much hydration is needed for varying individuals? Check out the ACSM Fluid Replacement Recommendations specific to your needs.
Older athletes do have certain factors to be considered. As we age, we become more vulnerable due to our bodies’ reduced ability to conserve water. Also, our sense of thirst tends to lose its accuracy which in turn makes older individuals less responsive to the bodies’ signs that we need to re-hydrate Individuals with diabetes and kidney disease are at a greater risk for dehydration, as well.
So how do you stay ahead of this game and prevent dehydration during winter sports? Here are some simple tips to incorporate:
- Be in the habit of carrying a water bottle with you at the start of each day and re-fill often. Especially do this in the mornings that you know you will be working outside later on in the day, that way you start out well hydrated.
- Keep it easy and incorporate a sports hydration pack whether you are walking locally, hiking the back country, or skiing. Staying hands’ free instead of carrying a bottle makes it easier and quicker to sip continually during your activity.
- Drink warm beverages: Green teas and other caffeine free options are a great way to get your fluids if you are not that excited about cold water in cold weather.
- Eat your way to hydration: Veggies and fruits are packed with fluids and also give you that extra energy for your winter workout coming up. Start your day with plenty of these.
- Just say no to caffeine: It is a diuretic which contributes to dehydration.
- Plan ahead: Keep extra water bottles in the back of your car and replenish when you use them. Hydrating after your hike or ski day is easier if plenty of extras are on hand.
How do you feel like you do with staying on top of winter hydration? Let us know what works for you!
Featured photo source: Pixabay.com