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Do I Need to Drink Water in the Winter?

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When the headlines scream "Sweltering Summer Heat Wave!" no one needs to be reminded to replenish their fluid levels, particularly when they work out or exert themselves. But what happens in the winter? "Many people wrongly assume that dehydration is only a danger when the weather is hot or humid," Snowshack explained. "But strenuous wintertime activities: such as downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, snowboarding and even snowmobiling?can pose just as much of a health risk for dehydration." Cold, dry mountain air and high altitudes both deplete fluid levels. Add these factors to the loss of fluid from winter sports exertion and dehydration can set in quickly. Depletion affects not only muscle strength and stamina, but also alertness, mental acuity and sound judgment. Even an experienced navigator can lose all sense of direction and even the ability to read the simplest of maps. Panic typically sets in as mental capacity decreases. These effects pose an extremely dangerous combination in potentially treacherous environments. SEASONS CHANGE, BUT NOT THE NEED TO REPLENISH FLUIDS To be safe and healthy this winter, Snowshack offers the following tips related to snow sport dehydration:

  • Start drinking before you go out and don't wait until you're thirsty. Remember, you're using more fluid than you realize and you should gradually replace it.
  • Use a water carrier that is comfortable, not cumbersome, and is ample enough to serve your hydration needs. For longer outings, make sure to carry additional water.
  • Drink what you need, when you need it, and never ration water, which can shortchange your body on the fluids it needs.
  • Water is far more important than food and the human body can go longer without nutrition than fluids. When dealing with a limited water supply, stick to a high-carbohydrate intake, as it requires less water to digest.
  • Be aware of, and keep track, your fluid intake. Dehydration causes the release of chemicals in the brain that can create euphoric sensations and actually trick the body into thinking it is no longer thirsty. A good strategy is to take small sips of water frequently, as opposed to building up a thirst and trying to quench it with large gulps. Be aware that you cannot always rely on your own senses to tell you when to drink.
  • Avoid using anything but water in your fluid reservoir. Other substances, such as sports drinks, can leave behind a sticky residue. Make sure to clean and rinse your fluid reservoir after every use to prevent the build-up of any bacteria.