As much as we profane cold weather here in Australia, winter still has its perks. Ordering a hot chocolate as an adult in summer might have the cafe staff raising an eyebrow at you, but in winter you can do so unashamedly. Then there’s the fashion, finally our chance to trade flip-flops and singlets for cashmere jumpers and big coats. It’s never quite the doom and gloom some bemoan the season to be, but there is one thing that typically occurs during winter that is harder to combat: staying hydrated.
During the colder months, it’s hard to sip water as frequently as you did in summer. No matter how much we try and get those litres in during the day, it’s common that most of us don’t drink as much water in the colder months, occasionally getting to our second coffee for the day in the afternoon before realising we haven’t had a sip of water all day.
There is a reason for this, though. According to Dr Drew Koch, “During the winter months, sweat evaporates more rapidly in the cold, dry air, and that can result in dehydration.” Writing in the Ithaca Journal, Dr Koch added, “Without the sweat, we’re tricked into thinking we aren’t losing fluids as rapidly as during a hot, summer day. Cooler temperature can also reduce the body’s thirst response. When exercising in cold weather, you may be less likely to drink water voluntarily.”
If you no longer feel thirsty in winter, that’s normal and something the cold just does to you. But though you might not feel that you need to hydrate, you can still actually put your body at risk of dehydration. Winter clothes add weight to your body which helps conserve heat, but it also means your body is working harder and produces more sweat that ultimately contributes to fluid loss. The addition of winter heating can also lead to dehydration, which typically presents itself first with symptoms like headaches, dry mouth, and decreased trips to the bathroom.
“In cold weather, we lose more fluids through respiratory water loss than on warm days,” writes Dr Koch. “When you can see your breath in the cold air, that’s actually water vapour that you body is losing. The colder the temperature and the more intense the exercise, the more vapour you lose when you breathe.”
It might be a lot harder to sip frequently in winter, but consuming water now is just as important as during the summer months. Ensure you’re filling up that water bottle, sipping from it frequently, and making numerous trips to the bathroom.