Many runners only worry about hydration during the summer months, when sweat rates are high. However, dehydration can occur just as easily when the weather is cold, thanks to dry air and fewer signs of thirst. Tips for staying hydrated once the temperature drops are detailed below.
Drink on the Run
If you carry a hydration pack during the summer, don’t ditch the habit once snow hits the ground. In fact, you may be more inclined to carry your hydration since outdoor water fountains are typically turned off once the days grow shorter. To know exactly how much hydration is required during exercise, don’t forget to track your sweat rate.
Drink Warm Liquids
Your body will expend less energy when the liquids you consume are close in temperature to your body, helping fluids more readily absorb. In addition, people are less likely to reach for a cold beverage when the air is frigid. A warm cup of tea, cocoa, coffee, or broth, however, will be both satisfying and hydrating.
Eat your Water
An alternative to drinking warm (or cold) beverages is to receive your hydration through food. Soups, winter fruits, and certain holiday staples all pack a hydrating punch. When hydrating with soup, opt for one that has a light or clear broth, as this will be absorbed most easily by the body. Winter fruits such as oranges, clementines, tangerines, grapes, and pears are all adequate hydration sources as well. Holiday favorites such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and green beans also help with hydration.
Watch Caffeine and Alcohol Intake
When the weather grows colder, drinks such as coffee, mulled wine, and hot toddies are increasingly tempting. Indulge in these drinks in moderation, as they all have a diuretic effect that can negatively impact water retention.
Don’t Forget Electrolytes
Just because you are no longer sweating profusely on your outdoor runs doesn’t mean you can ditch the electrolyte replenishing drinks. Salt, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and zinc are just as important in the winter. If you struggle to get enough of these vital nutrients throughout the day, consider a multivitamin or supplement.
Set Hydration Goals
We often forget about hydration during the winter because we feel less thirsty when the air is chilly. Set goals to accomplish throughout the day, such as drinking half your body weight (in ounces) by the time you go to bed. For instance, if you weight 150 lbs, aim for 75 ounces of liquid daily (all types of liquids count, not just water).
Install a Humidifier
Dry air can sap skin, lips, and throat of moisture which ultimately affects hydration. Install a humidifier in your home, office, or bedroom to help ensure you don’t lose any additional moisture.
Know the Signs of Dehydration
Perhaps the greatest way to prevent dehydration is to know the signs and symptoms. Urine color is your best indication; make sure it is pale-to-clear and never dark. Dry skin, particularly lips, is also a good indicator. If you feel excessively thirsty, fatigued, irritable, or are experiencing unexplained confusion, chances are you could use a warm drink!
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