The truth about winter dehydration

Exercising outdoors is a great way to get some fresh air and beat the winter blues. And this season more than ever, thousands of Canadians have splurged on snowshoes, skis and other winter sports gear to stay active, sane and as social as they can with all that’s going on in the world. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that it’s important—maybe even more so than in summer—to stay hydrated when you practice winter sports. 

What are the most common causes of wintertime dehydration?

Reason #1: Cold air 

When you breathe in cold, dry air, your body automatically warms up and humidifies the air you inhale. This causes you to lose water and increases your chances of becoming dehydrated.

Reason #2: Winter clothes  

Moisture-absorbing clothes are great for outdoor exercise because they stop you from feeling wet, even if you sweat a lot.  Most people who run or cross-country ski in winter wear special seasonal gear designed to keep them dry and comfortable. The only downside? You can’t feel when you’re sweating so you might forget to drink your water. 

If you wear regular warm clothing, on the other hand, you’re still likely to sweat since your body warms up when you’re exercising. And even if you sweat less than you would in summer, your body still releases moisture. 

Reason #3: Altitude

The air tends to be colder at higher altitudes, which means it takes more ventilation to maintain blood oxygenation. Did you know that when you’re high up, it’s harder to spot when your body’s losing water? 

Why it’s so important to stay hydrated in winter 

There’s a direct link between hydration, thermoregulation and hypothermia. So when the temperature drops and you’re dehydrated, your body has a hard time maintaining a comfortable core temperature. That’s why it’s more important than ever to drink up.

So how do you stay hydrated?  

Sometimes just being aware of the risks can be enough to make sure you stay hydrated while you’re exercising outside. But here are a few helpful tips to remember as you bundle up and hit the snow:

Tip #1: Pack water 

The best way to remember to drink water is to carry it with you at all times. So the next time you’re packing up your ski boots or helmet, remember to grab one or two bottles of Eska on your way out the door. 

Tip #2: Set goals

If you don’t drink water regularly, try setting a timer on your watch or phone reminding you to take a few sips every 15 minutes or so. 

Tip #3: Wrap up warm (but not too warm) 

If you know you’ll be snowshoeing in the woods or going somewhere remote, make sure you dress in layers. That way, if you find your body temperature rising while you’re navigating your way through the trees, you can peel off a layer or two to cool down. The goal is to maintain a comfortable body temperature and avoid getting too hot or sweaty. 

Tip #4: Check your pee 

Anytime you head indoors to use the washroom, take a quick peek at your pee in the toilet. If it looks darker than usual, you’re probably dehydrated and need a drink. 

Winter sports: a healthy way to stay active and sane this season 

Winter sports are fun and good for you, so don’t hold back. There are countless ways to stay active in the winter season—skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey, skating, sledding, snowshoeing, running, fat biking and any other activity you can think of in between. So when the great outdoors calls and you’re craving some fresh air, just follow your true nature…and let Eska help you stay hydrated along the way.

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