We are all familiar with the need to keep hydrated during hot weather. But hydration is just as important during winter since cold air means dry air.
Warmer air holds more moisture than cooler air. The colder the air, the less water it can hold before the water condenses. This is why you can see your breath on a cold day. It’s also why cold air has a low humidity.
Cold temperatures also mean the heat is cranked up at home, in the office, and elsewhere indoors. When air with a low humidity from outside is brought inside and heated, the relative humidity in the air will decrease. So heat generated indoors from HVAC systems and space heaters adds warmth but not moisture, resulting in lots of warm, dry air.
All this dry air can lead to cracked skin, bloody noses, dry throats, and chapped lips, all signs of dehydration. Humidifiers and lotion can help. So can drinking lots of water.
In winter, we tend to go for longer periods without water. This is because sweat is less noticeable and we don’t feel thirst as acutely in winter as compared to summer. But the body’s need for water is the same year round. Our bodies are about 60% water and the water we consume optimizes blood pressure, regulates body temperature, lubricates joints, moves waste out of the body, and aids in digestion.
Recommendations vary depending on weight, age, and activity level, but a general guideline for how much water you should consume is 8, 8-ounce glasses each day. Another guideline is to divide your weight by 2 and drink that number in ounces. For example, a 150-pound person would need 75 ounces (150/2) of water per day. You should talk with your doctor to be sure that you’re drinking the right amount of water for your body type and activity level.
Here are some more tips to help you stay hydrated in winter:
- Don't rely on thirst alone. Thirst can be one measure of hydration but it's not the first means of feedback, so rehydrate before you feel thirsty.
- Hot drinks count. Stay warm and hydrated with herbal tea. Or try infusing hot water with fruit or herbs for added flavor without added sugar.
- Incorporate foods with high water content like cucumbers, berries, citrus, melon, greens, and tomatoes into your diet.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks as they act as a diuretic, pulling water from the body rather than replacing it.
- Carry a reusable water bottle with you that you can easily refill with tap water. You’ll save money and help the environment by choosing tap over bottled water.
- One foolproof way to tell if you're hydrated: urine color. An optimal lemonade-color is a sign of proper hydration. If it looks dark, like iced tea or apple juice, you're not drinking enough water.