The signs of dehydration are easy to see when you work out in the summer. It’s wicked hot; you’re sweating; time to drink water.
During the cold winter months, cues for hydrating may not be so obvious. You may not perspire as much during a winter run, but you still lose fluid through evaporation. In addition,, you lose fluid through exhalation when breathing.
Dry winter air also makes your lungs work harder to humidify the air you breathe.
“In winter, people feel about 40 percent less thirsty, even though the body’s need for water is unchanged year round,” wrote Abigail Meise for the Summit Medical Group. According to Uniformed Services University, if you’re outside for less than two hours, dehydration might not be an issue. Longer than two hours, you definitely need to watch your fluid levels.
The easiest way to check your hydration level is the color of your urine. If it’s clear or light yellow, you’re OK. Dark colored urine means it’s time to drink.
Water, sports drink, or warm non-caffeinated beverages are the best way to stay hydrated. Avoid caffeine, including energy drinks, and alcohol, as these will dehydrate you.
One way to manage winter hydration is to dress in layers. When you begin to heat up and perspire, shed a layer. If you begin to cool down, put that layer back on. The goal is to be warm enough without sweating excessively. People look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them I’ve shed layers when I’m skiing and it’s 5 above zero. But it works.
So when you go out for that winter run, bring your water bottle as well as a hat and gloves, don’t let winter shut you indoors!