Winter is here! And for many of you this brings shivers of dread …and cold!
Not only is it really hard to get out of your warm bed into the cold dark mornings, it is also a challenge to get motivated to exercise in the cold outdoors. If you do make it outside for your workout you’ll probably find it is, surprisingly, quite pleasant to be exercising in cooler temperatures without the effects of heat stress and dehydration.
However, it is easy to overlook the importance of staying hydrated because you tend to sweat less and don’t feel as thirsty but in actual fact exercising in the cold can impair your ability to recognise fluid loss and increase your fluid loss through respiration.
So it is just as important and, in fact, essential for your exercise performance and recovery to keep your body hydrated with regular water intake before, during and after your winter workout.
During exercise, your body consumes large amounts of water. The loss of water significantly reduces physical performance by causing muscle fatigue and weakness. Studies have found that athletes who lose as little as two percent of their body weight through sweating have a drop in blood volume which causes the heart to work harder to circulate blood. A drop in blood volume may also lead to muscle cramps, dizziness, fatigue and heat illness.
Determining the right amount of fluid to drink depends upon a variety of individual factors including sweat rate, body weight loss and the duration and intensity of exercise. Here are two simple methods to estimate whether your hydration is optimal:-
- Monitor the amount and colour of your urine – a large amount of light coloured urine probably indicates you are hydrated while a small amount dark coloured urine means you are dehydrated.
- Check your weight before and after exercise – any weight loss is most probably from fluid, so try to drink enough to replace the loss.
Here are some tips to help you stay well hydrated.
- Drink a couple of glasses of water 3-4 hours before you exercise or at least 1 glass before your early morning workout.
- Sip water during exercise. Water Weights are a great way to take clean fresh water on the run.
- Following your workout eating normal meals and beverages will restore hydration and carrying a BPA free stainless steel water bottle with clean fresh water throughout your day will enable you to gradually restore hydration. However, if you experience a large post exercise weight loss you may need more rapid rehydration and the ASCM recommends you can drink 1.5 litres of fluid for each kilogram of body weight lost to aid in recovery from excessive dehydration. Consuming beverages and snacks with sodium will help expedite rapid and complete recovery by stimulating thirst and fluid retention.