We all know that staying well hydrated in the heat of summer is crucial to leading a healthy lifestyle, particularly for us tennis players since we’re outside on the courts so often. But did you know that it is just as easy to become dehydrated during the winter months? Yep! And failing to stay hydrated can actually be hazardous to your health, potentially leading to much more serious consequences!
Here are four main reasons why proper hydration in winter is just as important as it is in summer:
Fluids Boost Your Immune System
Even though temperatures are much colder, the winter also brings much drier air, which can unexpectedly lead to dehydration. This, in turn, can cause your body to feel sluggish and run-down, with muscle fatigue sometimes being a side effect. This can also cause you to become more susceptible to certain illnesses, such as the common cold or the flu. When you drink plenty of water, you actually give your body the fluids it needs to fight off these illnesses.
Fluids Help Maintain Your Weight
The colder weather of winter is often used as an excuse to exercise less and eat more (I’m SO guilty of this!) This can lead to weight gain, which can be further exacerbated by not drinking enough fluids. When properly hydrated, your body is far more efficient at breaking down fats and converting them to energy, which is helpful on those short winter days when it feels like we should be going to bed earlier. Staying hydrated will also prevent your body from retaining fluids. If it doesn’t have enough water, your body will stubbornly hold on to the fluids it does have, which can also result in weight gain.
Fluids Help You Stay Warmer
Your body uses water to help maintain its temperature during both the summer and the winter. Not having enough fluids can cause your core temperature to drop, sometimes dramatically. In fact, one of the biggest reasons people suffer hypothermia is that they become dehydrated while staying outside for extended periods of time. Drinking plenty of fluids can help avoid this and actually aid in keeping you warmer. Avoid colder drinks if you can, however. Warm or room temperature fluids are best for the body on especially cold days.
Dehydration Is Less Noticeable
Unlike in the summer when the hot weather can make us sweat profusely, dehydration is much less noticeable in the winter. Perspiration tends to turn to water vapor very quickly, and extra layers of clothing combined with the drier air can cause our bodies to dehydrate without us even realizing that it’s happening. And sometimes we don’t even feel thirsty. That’s why you should drink fluids throughout the day, especially before, during, and after a match or workout sesh. The effects of dehydration are more subtle during the winter, so it is important to take the initiative to avoid any problems.
As you can see, there are a number of important reasons why staying hydrated is just as important in the winter as it is in the summer. Drinking plenty of fluids can help alleviate any issues that might arise and go a long way toward keeping you healthy too. No matter which season you’re in, avoid caffeinated beverages or alcohol while rehydrating, as both can do more harm than good. Other than that, just be aware of the cues your body is sending you, and drink plenty of fluids each day.