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The Risk of Dehydration During Winter Exercise: How To Respond

As the snow begins to fall and the wind chill causes temperatures to plummet, people who enjoy exercising outdoors may want to take caution. While many of us worry about classic winter ailments like frostbite and seasonal affective disorder, we often overlook the danger of dehydration.

We know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t dehydration occur in summertime when heat soars? Yes, but surprisingly, dehydration is just as common during the cold winter months. That’s because heavy clothes can increase sweating, our thirst mechanisms aren’t as effective, and we lose water when we breathe. Making matters worse, colds and flus — which are big risk factors for dehydration — are more common in winter.

That doesn’t mean you have to give up on winter exercise. Here, you’ll learn more about the danger of dehydration in the winter months and how to recognize the signs. Plus, we’ll offer advice on how to avoid dehydration, including using an oral rehydration solution like DripDrop ORS. It’s been proven to manage mild to moderate dehydration, and it’s both powerful enough to use in extreme circumstances but safe enough for everyday use.

Winter Exercise: The Danger of Dehydration

We’re all pretty familiar with heat-related illnesses and how high temperatures can increase the risk of dehydration. What many of us don’t know is that cold temperatures can also heighten the likelihood of developing the condition.

Again, winter dehydration can occur for several reasons. First, cold temperatures in winter usually force us to put on more clothes. Our running shorts are replaced by waterproof pants and our tank tops are substituted with a base layer and a waterproof outer layer like a heavy jacket. On really cold days, we may wear mittens, wool scarves, and thick hats.

All of this extra clothing adds weight. So when we move, our bodies have to exert more energy. This increases strain on our muscles and can also lead to increased sweating. Sweat is one of the main contributors to dehydration, particularly if you aren't replacing lost fluids and electrolytes quickly.

The science of evaporation further compounds the problem. You see, sweat evaporates more quickly in dry winter air, making it harder to tell you’re sweating. This means you may not drink enough fluids since you don’t even realize you’re sweating in the first place.

Second, winter exercise can lead to dehydration more easily because our thirst mechanism is less effective in cold temperatures. In fact, research shows that our thirst response can decrease by up to 40% in winter. When temperatures plummet, your body responds by constricting blood vessels to draw blood to your core, helping to maintain proper body temperature. Since there's more blood volume in your core, your brain is tricked into thinking you’re completely hydrated, even if you’re not.

Finally, respiratory water loss also increases in cold temperatures, especially during winter exercise. Think about the last time you went running in the cold. Remember breathing heavily and seeing your breath? That mist is actually a form of water loss, increasing your risk of dehydration with every breath. It’s a good idea to have an oral rehydration solution like DripDrop ORS on hand to stay hydrated whenever you’re exercising or working outdoors.

How To Recognize Dehydration in Winter

Now that you know how winter exercise can lead to dehydration, it’s important to recognize the signs of the condition. Whether you’re doing aerobic exercise to improve your cardio — like biking or ice skating — or focusing on high intensity exercises to build bulk, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for signs of dehydration.

Here are the most common signs of dehydration:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness and fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Lack of energy, poor performance, or decreased output compared to how you usually complete your exercises
  • An increase in exercise injuries compared to normal
  • Dry skin and cracked lips
  • Decreased urination
  • Constipation
  • Increased or irregular heart rate
  • Extreme thirst (though this is less noticeable with winter dehydration since thirst mechanisms decrease)

When you recognize the signs of dehydration during winter exercise, it isn’t enough to only drink water. You need a perfect balance of sodium and glucose to help absorption. That’s why it’s important to thoughtfully consider how you replenish lost fluids and electrolytes.

Sports drinks and fruit juices aren’t the best choice. Instead, reach for an oral rehydration solution like DripDrop ORS, which contains a precisely balanced ratio of sodium and glucose, so you can replenish vital electrolytes and fluids and relieve dehydration quickly. By comparison, sports drinks contain about one-third the electrolytes of DripDrop ORS and twice as much sugar.

Plus, DripDrop ORS has a low osmolarity, which is a measurement of how much pressure is required for fluids to move across cell membranes. That means it works faster, helping to get vital fluids and electrolytes into your cells when you need them most. DripDrop ORS supplies vitamins like zinc, potassium, and magnesium, which are essential to support your overall health and wellness, especially during the wintertime when the common cold and flu are more prevalent.

Other Tips To Stay Safe During Winter Exercise

In addition to staying hydrated, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of dehydration during winter exercise. First, choose clothes that are breathable whenever possible and focus on layering. This will help to reduce sweating, a key trigger of dehydration. Instead of wearing a full knit beanie, think about a wool headband that will keep you warm but won’t be as likely to cause overheating.

Whether you’re doing a winter workout or working in cold weather, choose a thin base in a fabric that offers wicking properties. Wool, polyester, polypropylene, and nylon are all great moisture-wicking fabrics that can help regulate body heat. Add an insulating layer such as a light fleece or thinsulate sweater and use a breathable outer layer. During cold-weather exercise, remove articles of clothing as you exert more energy to avoid excessive sweating that can increase dehydration risk.

Before jumping into your cardio exercise routine, start with a simple warm up. You can do some jumping jacks, a few lunges, or jog in place. This helps to pump blood to your extremities, keeping you warm and preventing injuries. Make sure to end your workout with a cool down as well.

And remember, maintaining proper hydration is your best tool in tackling dehydration. That’s why it’s a good idea to bring DripDrop ORS with you during each winter exercise outing.

Medical-grade DripDrop ORS allows you to alleviate mild to moderate dehydration outside of a hospital setting, without the need for costly and painful IV therapy. Our patented formula is powerful enough to help patients suffering from dehydration caused by Ebola and cholera but safe enough for everyday use.

Avoid Dehydration During Outdoor Exercise With DripDrop ORS

Whether you’re an avid cyclist or starting off the new year with a goal of increasing your physical activity level by working with a personal trainer, it’s important to be aware of the risk of dehydration during winter exercise. Once you understand the connection between cold temperatures and dehydration, you can keep an eye out for warning signs.

At the first sign of dehydration, reach for DripDrop ORS to crush the condition. DripDrop ORS was developed by a doctor on a mission to defeat life-threatening dehydration. The patented formula provides medically relevant electrolyte levels, improving on the World Health Organization’s Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) standards because of its delicious taste, giving you a medically viable ORS that also tastes great.

For cases of mild to moderate dehydration, DripDrop ORS is a fast, effective, and great tasting remedy. The convenient packaging allows you to have DripDrop ORS when you need it, where you need it. Plus, DripDrop ORS tastes amazing and comes in a variety of flavors you can enjoy hot or cold. Use a refreshing flavor like Berry or Watermelon to stay hydrated when working hard outdoors or warm up when you get back home with a hot flavor like Spiced Apple Cider.