Now that it’s January, and the season to amp up your workouts just in time for the dead of winter, it’s important to talk a little bit about hydration in colder weather. Cold weather outdoor activities like running or skiing have their benefits – no humidity, less early morning wakeups to “beat the heat” for your long run and that crisp, cool, invigorating feeling. Since you typically sweat less on when it’s cold, hydration may not be top of mind during and after activity. However, dehydration can rear its ugly head when you least expect it, and it’s just as important to stay on top of in January as it is in July. Here are some tips to keep you running strong and hydrated through this winter.
1. Drink before thirst
Make sure to hydrate throughout the day, and start hydrating for a run, race or day on the slopes several hours beforehand. Don’t go crazy, but just make sure your urine is a pale yellow color. You may need to drink during activity lasting more than 45-60 minutes to stay hydrated.
2. Take the “sweat test”
The amount you should drink depends on a few things, including weather and body weight. The most efficient way to figure out what is best for you is to take the sweat test.
- Weigh yourself naked before your activity (e.g., running or skiing)
- Weigh yourself naked afterwards
- Estimate how much fluid you took in during the activity, if any
- Subtract the post-activity weight from the pre-activity weight. Convert every pound lost to 16 ounces of fluid, and add that to any fluids you consumed during activity to get your total fluid needs.
- Divide this number by the duration of your activity to help give you an estimate of how much you may need per hour in similar conditions, effort and duration.
Results will likely differ for different times of the year and intensity of the activity, but you can always re-do your sweat test as much as you need to.
3. Plan ahead
Water fountains on your usual outdoor walking or running routes may be shut off for the winter, so you’ll want to think about how you’re going to get fluids in during your workout. If you run with a handheld water bottle, try using hand warmers between your hand and the bottle to help keep warm (it can get pretty cold if the fluids freeze!). Another option is to bring a few dollars for a pit stop at a drug store or convenience store for some water or Gatorade, or stash a bottle in a central location for easy drinking later. If you’re on the slopes all day, make sure to take a water break every 45-60 minutes – especially if you’re skiing at a higher altitude, which can be more dehydrating.
4. Post-activity hydration
Pounding down a cold glass of water when you get home is not as appealing when most of your body is numb from sub-zero temperatures. Try having a warm beverage – they count as fluids too! Coffee and tea are great, but if to get more bang for your buck, try a flavored latte or hot chocolate made with low fat, skim or soy milk for that optimal carb:protein ratio (4:1) to replenish energy and rebuild broken down muscles while getting you nice and toasty.
Written by Kelly Hogan, MS, RD, CDN. Kelly is a Rise Coach and registered dietitian who lives in New York City. In addition to Rise coaching, Kelly is a clinical dietitian at an NYC hospital and has a passion for sports nutrition and weight management. Kelly loves running marathons, cooking delicious food and any kind of puppy. Want to work with Kelly or someone like her, get started at www.rise.us/r/KELLYHOGAN.