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Hydrate during winter too

  • Published
  • By Anne Nikola
  • Health and Wellness Center
With the winter season in full force, our days are full of colder temperatures and low wind chills. While many people think of staying hydrated in the summer, it is often easy to forget that staying hydrated in the winter is just as important. The chilly weather brings dry air which causes our body to try to humidify the air when we breathe.

Even if you aren't sweating in the cold, water vapor is still lost through your breath. This water vapor then looks like steam or fog because our bodies are working hard to heat up dry, cold air. We can often lose up to one or two liters of water a day just through evaporation in our lungs.

Colder temperatures can also speed up dehydration because our bodies tend to conserve heat by constricting blood, pushing blood to your body's core, and fooling your body into thinking it is full of fluid. It is important to drink enough fluid, even if you are not feeling thirsty in the cold.

When exercising outside, it is a good idea to drink 8-16 ounces (1-2 cups) of water two hours prior to exercise. If you are exercising more than 30 minutes, bring a water bottle with you to take in some fluid during your workout. Wondering how much water to drink after a workout? Weigh yourself before and after exercise. For each pound lost, drink an additional 16-24 ounces (2-3 cups) of fluids such as water, juice, or Gatorade. This will help to rehydrate and to keep you hydrated.

To know if you are dehydrated, look for signs such as exhaustion, muscle fatigue, cramps, loss of coordination, or sometimes even stroke. Checking urine color is also a good idea. When hydrated, urine should be a pale yellow. Bright yellow color urine could mean the beginnings of dehydration, and darker yellow is a sign of being dehydrated already. If your urine is clear, you might be overhydrated and need slightly less fluids.

How do you know how much water is enough to prevent dehydration? Drink about half of your body weight in fluid ounces. For example, a 150 pound person needs about 75 ounces of fluid each day.

Here are a few tips on how to stay hydrated:

Try drinking more tea or decaffeinated coffee over caffeinated drinks.

Eat low sodium foods. Extra salt can lead to dehydration.

Drink before and after exercise regardless of temperature.

Eat more broth based soups.

Add flavor to plain water or tea without calories or salt, such as lemon, orange, or lime.

Eat more fruits and vegetables. Some examples of good water dense produce in winter are apples, bell peppers, cucumbers, oranges, carrots, grapefruit, kiwis, and pears.

Even though it is chilly out, remember to keep hydrated and stay warm. For more information, please contact the HAWC at 256-7139.