Staying Hydrated During Winter

December 19, 2017

Here come the holidays! Hopefully, you have relaxing days of spending a little more leisure time outdoors—snowy winter walks, ski days in the canyons, and maybe even some snowshoeing or ice skating. Whatever you’re doing, even if it’s holing up with a good book, don’t forget to stay hydrated.

Hydration is not something that often crosses our minds during the cold months. There are a few reasons for this.

1) In cold weather, our thirst can diminish by a whopping 40 percent compared to warmer months (Kenefick). This is because as the temperature outside drops, our body has to work harder to keep our core temperature steady, so it sends more blood to our core and less blood to our extremities (chilly fingers and toes anyone?). This increased blood flow around our body’s core tricks our body into thinking we are more hydrated than we actually are, so our body fails to tell us we’re thirsty.

2) We lose more fluid through our breath in cold weather. Next time you can see your breath, remember to drink.

3) Sweat evaporates quicker in cold weather compared to warmer weather. This means we may not notice how much we’re sweating, and so don’t remember to drink.

So what do we do?

Drink up! Bring water with you whenever you are exercising outside and make it a habit to sip regularly. Insulated water hydration packs can help with this and prevent your water from freezing, or simply pack your water close to your body and keep it sloshing.

When you aren’t outdoors, keep up your routine of drinking water often. Make sure to drink at every meal. Monitor your urine—it should be light yellow and frequent.

How Much?

The Institute of Medicine recommends men start with 13 cups of water per day and women start with 9 cups of water per day.

But I’m not thirsty

Of course, because it’s cold outside. If you are finding it difficult to drink water regularly, make sure to eat plenty of foods that contain water. This includes fruit, vegetables, soups, and smoothies. Or be creative and sip some tea or make your own hydration station to make hydration fun.



Kenefick RW. Hazzard MP, Mahood NV, and Castellani JW. Thirst sensations and AVP responses at rest and during exercise-cold exposure. ( Med Sci and Sports Exerc. 1528-1534 (2004).