We don’t often associate cold-weather exercise with dehydration. The body doesn’t get as hot, and sweat evaporates more rapidly in the cold air. Thus, we’re tricked into thinking we aren’t losing fluids as rapidly because we don’t feel as thirsty.
However, cold weather accelerates dehydration because mammals have a survival mechanism that constricts blood vessels in cold weather, to conserve heat and maintain body temperature. Blood vessels shrinking increases blood pressure. To lower the pressure, your kidneys make more urine, meaning less blood to fill veins and arteries, more frequent trips to the bathroom and greater risk of dehydration.
So diminished thirst response and increased urine production are two contributing factors. Yet, there are several others that can lead to winter dehydration, including:
- Wearing extra clothing. Heavy jackets, long underwear and other pieces of warm clothing help your body conserve heat. The added weight from clothing also makes the body work harder.
- Increased respiratory fluid loss. In cold weather, we lose more fluids through respiratory water loss. For example, when you can see your own breath, that’s actually water vapor that your body is losing. The colder the temperature and the more intense the exercise, the more vapor you lose when you breathe.
- Sweat evaporates more quickly in cold air.We often think we aren’t sweating in cold, dry weather, because it tends to evaporate so quickly. This is another factor that can contribute to a diminished thirst response.
- We also tend to eat more carbs in the winter which increases our blood sugar. This makes us lose water faster while the body is working harder and uses more water to dilute the increased sugar intake.
Winter Dehydration is Hard on Your Health and Your Weight
Winter or summer, dehydration can cause exhaustion, muscle fatigue, cramps, loss of coordination and even a stroke. When dehydrated, you can also become more susceptible to winter colds and flu because dehydration lowers the immune system. Dehydration is synonymous with Inflammation. As we know inflammation is the major symptom in all winter ailments.
Not drinking enough water can also make it harder to keep extra pounds off during the shorter days when we tend to exercise less and eat more. When hydrated, your body is better able to break down fat for energy, your appetite is better controlled (it’s important to note that we often think we are hungry when we are really just thirsty). Also, if your body doesn’t get adequate water it holds the water it already has, so sufficient hydration is key to avoiding fluid retention.
Quality vs Quantity
Drinking half of your body weight in oz is essential to replace the water lost during the day. Quality of water is just as important as the quantity. For proper hydration the body needs clean pure water without chemicals. Chemicals are found in most waters including tap and bottled water. Those chemicals contribute to the toxic pollution of the body and cause inflammation. The best water one can drink is Ionized Alkaline Water. This water has been properly treated to remove chemicals through filtration and ionization. The water is also restructured to enhance hydration, anti-oxidation and detoxification. It is superior water for superior health and performance.