Staying Hydrated This Winter
Athletes who participate in both indoor and outdoor sports will lose a significant amount of body fluid this winter. It is often easy to overlook the signs of dehydration because your body isn't sweating as much, and to make matters worse, the cold weather often reduces the drive to drink. The most common illness that arises from dehydration is cramping, but a dehydrated body can also lead to exhaustion, muscle fatigue, loss of coordination and even stroke. Dehydration may even leave you more susceptible to common colds and flu, which are more prevalent in the winter months.
Fluid volume plays a vital role in preventing dehydration. As a result, the National Athletic Trainers Association has provided five suggestions for staying hydrated during the cold weather:
- Drink Often: Consumption of fluids is extremely important before, during and after exercise.
- Importance of Flavor: Athletes are driven to sports drinks that are pleasing to their taste buds. These sport drinks aid in increasing their fluid volumes as the flavor encourages voluntary fluid intake.
- Significance of Salts: Fluids, which contain a moderate amount of sodium, will aid in replacing electrolytes lost during exercise, decreasing muscle spasm. Salt also helps to promote fluid absorption.
- Consume Carbohydrates: Consuming fluids that contain 6-8 percent carbohydrate concentration (juice and soda, for example) will help replenish glycogen, speed recovery and maintain metabolism.
- Beware of Improper Drinks: Beverages that contain high levels of carbohydrates such as fructose, or fluids that contain caffeine, may cause gastric distress and/or increase urine output which may increase the level of dehydration. Carbonated beverages tend to give a sense of fullness, thus leading to a decrease in fluid intake.
It's important to be cognizant of the signs and symptoms of dehydration: thirst, irritability, headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, chills and cramping. Remember to continually replenish and replace the amount of fluids in your body by drinking plenty of water this winter!
For more information about proper hydration, visit Gatorade Sports Science Institute by clicking here.
If you have any questions concerning an athletic injury you can contact one of the certified athletic trainers from St. Francis Sports Medicine at 675-HURT.