In recent weeks as your morning trek to work or school has become a herculean effort in and of itself, drinking enough water may not be at the forefront of your brain, and understandably so. Aside from the obvious distractions (digging your car out of yet another six-foot snowdrift), we tend to slack on hydration in the winter without even knowing it simply because we don?t always feel as thirsty when the weather is cold. We also lose a great deal of water from our bodies in cold temperatures due to respiratory fluid loss through breathing and because we can actually sweat more in the cold under the weight of extra clothing, even though it evaporates quickly and is not always noticeable.
Regardless of the fact that the temperatures are dropping and the next arctic vortex will soon strike, hydration is one of the most crucial components of overall health and wellness that cannot be overlooked. Especially if you’re an athlete.
On the most fundamental level, all humans depend on water for survival – every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water in order to function properly. And if you are an athlete looking to gain strength, PR your next marathon, increase flexibility, or to improve overall performance while training and racing, your daily water consumption takes on a whole new level of meaning.
With 75 percent of muscle tissue made up of water, proper hydration is critical for muscle growth, metabolic processes and recovery. Water is what aids blood circulation (92% of your blood consists of water!), carries oxygen and nutrients to cells (so your body can properly absorb them), regulates body temperature (through sweating), lubricates and cushions joints, aids digestion, and helps convert food to energy. If you slack on water intake, you will wind up feeling burnt out, irritable, and oftentimes hit a training plateau. Mark our words.
The good news? Staying hydrated is one of the easiest things you can do to maximize your workouts and get your body in peak performance during the winter months.
We’ve broken down some of the most essential and tried-and-true tips so you reach optimal hydration on a daily basis to perform 100% at work, at home, and in training:
- Know your daily fluid needs for basic hydration (this does NOT include additional fluid intake during training or racing). Needs vary by individual and gender, but your baseline should fall somewhere between 75oz – 100oz (an easy equation to estimate daily fluid needs in ounces = your body weight (in pounds)
- Drink in response to thirst (but be sure to refer to your basic daily needs to see if your thirst is aligned with your body’s actual needs; from there adjust accordingly)
- Stick to room temperature water/drinks when possible (warmer fluids help keep your internal temperature optimal in cold weather)
- Eat hydrating foods (watermelon, cucumbers, bell peppers, strawberries and cantaloupe are all made up of over 90% water and are full of key nutrients including vitamin C, magnesium, sodium, and potassium) Drink broth-based soups and hot tea (both count toward your daily water intake and can be far more appealing in cold weather)
- Check the color of your urine throughout the day (it should be light in color, but not clear)
- During strenuous exercise that is updwards of 60 minutes, aim to drink roughly 5 ounces every 15-20 minutes to maintain optimal hydration (and keep in mind that once your workout is upwards of about 60 minutes or your running mileage hits the double digits, you’ll need to incorporate salt or sports drink as well to replace electroylytes and sodium you lose through sweating).