NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Staying Hydrated During the Winter

Staying Hydrated During the Winter


            Hydration concerns shouldn't stop when the temperature drops. In fact, dehydration can be just as common in the winter as in the summer. Because your body is not sweating as much, it's easy to overlook the signs of dehydration. A dehydrated body can lead to exhaustion, muscle fatigue, cramps, loss of coordination and even stroke. Dehydration can also leave your body more susceptible to common colds and flu, which are both more prevalent in the winter.

            In cold weather your body loses water the same way it does in warm weather, through sweating, breathing and urinating. It’s obvious that the summer months are warmer so we may sweat more, but we also wear less clothing and have air-conditioning which cools us down when we heat up. In the winter months we usually wear extra layers of clothing and we sit in heated rooms which keeps our bodies slightly warmer throughout the entire day.

            For those that exercise intensely, hydration needs do increase. Winter sports like skiing and snowboarding are equally as strenuous as summer activities and you have to increase your beverage intake if you partake in these.

            People need from under one liter a day to nearly four liters a day depending on their age, sex and health status. One liter equals 4.23 cups. Newborns and infants need 0.7 to 0.8 liters of water a day from breast milk or formula. Toddlers need 1.3 liters and young children up to eight years need 1.7 liters daily. Boys, ages nine to 13 need 2.4 liters daily. Teenage boys and adult men need 2.7 liters. Girls, ages nine to 13 need 2.1 liters and teenage girls need 2.3 liters. Adult women need at least 2.7 liters of water each day. Women need at least 3 liters of water during pregnancy and 3.8 liters daily for lactation. The total amount of liquid you take in for a day is a combination of beverages you drink as well as food you eat. About 75-80% of your water intake should come from beverages while the other 15-20% comes from foods like fruit and vegetables that also contribute water.

            The rules of hydration are essentially the same no matter the weather. Pay attention to the warning signs of dehydration and make sure to drink plenty of water. Keep a bottle of water handy, and drink even before signs of thirst appear. Thirst is a signal that your body is already on the way to dehydration.

            Drink before, during and after exercise. Drink 1 to 2 cups of water at least one hour before the start of any exercise. Drink 4 to 8 oz. of fluid every 20 to 30 minutes during exercise. This is much harder to do when its cold outside since you may not sweat profusely or feel particularly thirsty.

            Drink water throughout the day and especially at every meal. If you are craving a hot chocolate or coffee to warm you up, pair it with a glass of water without ice. Tepid water won't make you feel too chilled and it's also easier for your body to absorb than a cold drink.

            When exercising, pack water with you. Depending on your workout, you may need to carry water with you. If you're snow skiing or exercising outside, keep your water bottle from freezing by insulating it or tucking it into your warmest layer of clothing.

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