Do you ever wonder why you can do a physical activity longer in the winter without having to stop and chug that bottle of water? The same recreation in the summer can leave you panting with thirst, but now you only need one bottle of water for that five-mile hike or that seven-mile paddle down the river. Your head may ache a bit afterward and you might be breathing hard, but that 16 oz bottle of water was all you needed, right? Believe it or not, you are wrong. You actually run a higher risk of dehydration in the winter. And you won’t even see it coming.
Cold Weather and Hydration: Switching to the Winter Mode
In the summer when you exercise, your body lets you know when you are thirsty. You feel thirsty. You see the sweat. You drink and everything works. A beautiful symbiotic relationship. However, once those temperatures drop, something changes inside and that lovely symbiotic relationship goes awry.
In the winter, your body still gets thirsty, and you need hydration, but when faced with cold weather, it switches to winter mode and concentrates on keeping you warm. Your body focuses on pulling blood away from the extremities to keep your internal core heated. In the winter, regulating your body temperature takes priority over balancing your internal fluids. Your body’s program telling you that you are thirsty gets overridden.
Where Does All that Water Go?
Ever wonder why you have to pee more when the weather is cold? When faced with lower temperatures, your body works hard to keep things warm, and a kidney full of liquid is just an extra space that needs heating. Unnecessary heating. So it flushes out that excess water and the result makes you run to the bathroom more than usual. Unfortunately, this extra release of fluids means you should be topping up the tank, so to speak, and drink more to keep those organs hydrated.
When the air is cold outside, you can see your breath. When that happens, you are actually losing water from your body as it becomes moisture in the air. Couple that with those extra layers of clothes that are making you sweat and you have a clear path to dehydration.
Symptoms of Dehydration
Dry, sticky mouth, cool skin, rapid breathing, elevated blood pressure, headache, fast heartbeat and thirst are all symptoms of dehydration. By the time you actually feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. In the cold weather, due to the winter mode your body has switched to, it gets worse.Your body won’t give you that thirsty feeling. So how do you know if you are dehydrated or not? With the colds and flu that swirl around during the winter months, feeling blah may not be the best indicator either, so your best bet is to check the color of your pee. It should be a clear yellow. If it’s darker, you are in need of fluids, so grab a drink.
Staying Hydrated in the Winter
You should aim to stay hydrated year round; not only does it give you younger looking skin, it also helps to run your blood more smoothly and keep those organs plumped up and healthy. In the winter you need to work with your body. You won’t be getting the signals that your body will send in the summer- like thirst. Realize that you are responsible for keeping hydrated. Drink fluids with your meals and consume water-rich foods like fruits and vegetables. Carry a bottle of water with you throughout the day to keep track of how much you drink. Aim to drink a glass of water when you wake up in the morning to rehydrate your system.
How much water should you drink? The average man needs 3 liters, and an average woman needs 2.2 liters of water daily. However, if you participate in rigorous activities or exercise, that amount can change according to your needs. Drinking too much water can leave you feeling bloated and also running the risk of hyponatremia, washing necessary sodium from your blood. Be smart. Be sensible. Stay hydrated and watch the color of your pee.
Featured photo credit: Unsplash at Pixaby via pixabay.com
|PubMed: Thirst Sensations and AVP Responses at Rest and During Exercise- Cold Exposure
|Medical News Today: Symptoms of Dehydration
|Mayo Clinic: Water: How much should you drink every day