In the summer, you know you need to drink water. It’s hot, you’re sweating, and, most importantly, you get thirsty quickly. But your body needs water just as much in the winter as it does in the summer. You wouldn’t think of going on a hike in August without water, yet skiers routinely spend hours on the slopes without taking in a drop to rehydrate themselves.
We’re not just talking about when you’re exercising in cold weather, either. The drier, lower humidity air means that everyone should be drinking more water in the winter, yet we routinely ignore or misinterpret the signs from our body. Why is it so important? Here are 10 reasons why you should be giving more thought to hydrating when the temperatures cool off.
1. Your Body Needs Water
OK, everyone knows this on a fundamental level. We understand that without a consistent refill, we can’t survive. But staying hydrated isn’t just about survival. When your body doesn’t get enough water, its systems—cardiovascular, digestive, nervous, you name it—no longer function properly. Your cells hold onto the fluid they do have, which can lead to discomfort and even cause bloating. Drinking more water actually allows the cells to function and solve this problem. Summer or winter makes no difference to the body—it still needs to maintain correct fluid levels.
2. It Helps With Performance
There’s a reason that athletes are so concerned about staying hydrated. There’s a link between even moderate dehydration and athletic performance. So when athletes are measured by hundredths of a second, you can understand why they want their body operating at peak efficiency. But you don’t need to be an elite athlete to want to get the most out of your body. Dehydration reduces endurance, lowers motivation, and increases muscle fatigue in weekend warriors as well. If you’re not taking in enough liquid while exercising outdoors, your performance suffers, which could lead to injury. Make sure you’re getting enough to drink before, during, and after exercise in the winter, just as you would in the summer.
3. You Can Increase Your Metabolism
Who doesn’t want to burn fat faster? Staying hydrated can increase the body’s metabolism by up to 30 percent, according to a study by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. The study also suggested that drinking two glasses of water before a meal can help to decrease your appetite. The combination of the two is helpful for those of us (OK, just about all of us) looking to avoid putting on winter weight.
4. Maintain Healthy Eating Habits
Winter throws the double whammy at us: We crave hearty foods and typically move around less in the cold weather. Often what feels like hunger is your body demanding more water. Staying hydrated is a big part of developing healthy eating habits. If you avoid getting to the point of feeling thirsty, you’re less likely to indulge in high-calorie, low-protein foods that can start a cascade of poor food choices.
5. Give Your Immune System a Boost
Winter is known as cold and flu season for a reason. We’re cooped up inside around other people and the drier air can be a contributing factor to dehydration. Our immune system becomes less effective, meaning that it’s tougher to fight off those bugs going around. Drink plenty of water in the winter to give yourself a better chance of avoiding the discomfort and pain.
6. Conditions Demand It
When you breathe in winter’s cold, dry air, your body has to work harder. In the lungs, the air must be heated and humidified. There’s even less humidity at higher altitudes, making this even more noticeable for skiers and snowboarders. You have to take in enough water to help this process along.
7. Dehydration is Less Noticeable in the Winter
When you exert yourself in the summer, your body sweats and delivers obvious cues that it’s time to drink more. In the winter, when you need to be drinking more water, it’s less noticeable. Even if you are sweating in the winter, the drier air tends to absorb the water vapor quickly, and all the layers hide it from view. The subtle effects of dehydration in the winter demand that you drink preemptively to avoid issues.
8. Staying Hydrated Means Staying Warmer
Drinking water to stay warm? Again, it sounds like a paradox, but your body needs water to maintain its body temperature. When you don’t get enough, your core temperature drops, which can be dangerous during outdoor activities. In fact, dehydration can be a significant cause of hypothermia. You may want to avoid cold water in extreme conditions—drink room temperature or warm water so you don’t have to work so hard to get it up to your body temperature.
9. Improve Your Skin
The dry air created by central heating can lead to rough, uncomfortable skin. Some people just assume that chapped lips and skin is just a part of life in the winter. But water is critical in keeping your skin cells flush and healthy. It also works to flush impurities from the body. When your skin isn’t well hydrated, those impurities are removed via your pores, which can cause blemishes. Instead of slathering on the lotion to treat the symptoms, drink more water to avoid the issues in the first place.
10. Increase Your Energy Levels
We’ve all been there on a cold winter evening—all you want to do is get under a blanket and relax on the couch. And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. But the lack of energy may be influenced by not getting enough water. A study from the University of Connecticut shows that even mild dehydration and have a significant impact on your mood and energy levels.
If you find yourself getting fatigued, headaches, or have difficulty concentrating in the winter, you may just need to drink more. As a general rule, you should be drinking at least 8-10 8-ounce glasses per day—even more when you are exercising!
A Few Tips
All that being said, many people know the benefits of drinking water, but just can’t stomach the taste (or lack thereof). Don’t let that stop you!
Here are three ways to encourage your tastebuds to get onboard:
Try adding water flavoring to make your water taste better. Look for one that uses natural sweeteners instead of sugar, like Everly’s Natural Drink Mixes.
Add fruit (strawberries or citrus) or cucumber to your water to make it a little tastier.
Make ice cubes with mint or fruit to drop into your water.
Written by Jeff Banowetz for Matcha in partnership with Everly.