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Staying physically active during the cooler months comes a bit easier for most people. And why shouldn’t it? Lower temperatures and humidity levels generally make us feel more comfortable, and as a result, we often exercise longer and more often.

However, the lack of heat and perspiration can make us simply forget how hot, tired and thirsty we really are. In fact, cold weather can decrease our thirst sensation by as much as 40 percent, allowing dehydration to sneak up and attack when we least expect it.

While it’s practically a habit to grab water bottles during the scorching summer months, it’s critical to watch out for signs of dehydration when it’s cooler outdoors. Common symptoms of mild to moderate hydration include:

* Dry, sticky mouth

* Sleepiness or tiredness

* Thirst

* Decreased urination

* Dry skin

* Decreased urination

* Headache

* Constipation

* Dizziness or lightheadedness

When considering beverages specifically for rehydration, avoid sodas, energy drinks and other caffeinated beverages because they actually reduce the amount of fluids retained in our bodies. Instead, opt for water or even sports drinks and pediatric formulas that contain sodium and potassium that the body needs to replenish electrolytes, which are important for cell function. And be sure to take small sips and pause between each drink to allow your body time to readjust.

Regardless of the weather, hydration should be an important part of your daily routine. But how much should you drink? There are numerous formulas for determining how much water is necessary, but when it doubt, shoot for eight 8-ounch glasses per day.  And if you’re feeling thirsty or experiencing any symptoms of dehydration, stop your physical activity immediately and slowly drink water or a sports drink as soon as possible. And, as always, seek medical attention if your symptoms persist or worsen.

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