Lots of people have lots of opinions about the issue of hydration in the summertime: the risks, the symptoms, the tactics you can use to stay ahead of the hot weather as it chips away at the internal water reserves you need to stay healthy. There’s less said about hydration in cold weather, but it’s just as important a topic, and just as much a risk to your health and wellbeing. Today we’re taking a look at the issues and answering that key question – do you have to hydrate when it’s cold?
In the winter, some of the risks of dehydration in the summer aren’t present: notably, it’s not as hot, meaning you perspire less as you simply go about your business day to day, and this depletes your fluid reserves less. Unfortunately, many of the other factors that contribute to dehydration are still very much active, and winter adds fresh challenges of its own, so you still need to be thinking actively about how to stay hydrated in the colder months.
Firstly, cold weather is often also dry weather, and this leads to more loss of water through your lungs and breath. Indoors, central heating and heated air conditioning dry the air with a similar effect. Perspiration remains an issue as wrapping up against the cold in heavy, non-breathable fabrics can raise a sweat! Finally, cold weather can actually suppress your sense of thirst, so as winter tightens its grip, you get less and less aware of how dehydrated you’re becoming.
These risks – and especially that last one – make it essential to have a proactive plan for staying hydrated throughout the day. Work out what’s a healthy hydration regime for your body type – drinking too much can be just as problematic as drinking too little – and create reminders to stick to it, whether that’s alerts on your phone, tying taking a drink into other regular tasks or incentivising yourself with tempting flavours! It might be worth considering a smart water bottle to help keep you to mark.
It’s not just water that you need to rehydrate healthily. You’re also losing all the valuable compounds your body keeps dissolved in its water reserves – most notably your electrolytes. These soluble salts help to balance the water level in your cells and blood stream, keep your heartbeat regular and even affect your mood, so it’s well worth ensuring they’re topped up. Use products like ORS rehydration tablets or sports rehydration drinks to make sure you’re rehydrating fully and healthily.