As temperatures rise, hydration becomes an obvious need, but it’s worth paying attention to year-round. About 65 percent of body weight is water, which makes up the delivery system for everything your body needs, including removing waste and moderating temperature.
The most obvious way we lose water is through sweating, but there is also substantial loss of fluids through breathing in the cold, dry air of winter. When the amount of fluid loss reaches about 2 percent of body weight, there isn’t enough water left to circulate blood properly. Your kidneys have a harder time clearing wastes, and less blood is circulated to your muscles, brain, fingers and toes. Fatigue and headache — even frostbite in the winter — can ensue.
Unfortunately, thirst isn’t the best way to tell if you’re dehydrated, and the solution is not as easy as drinking enough water. By the time you feel thirsty, your body is already short about a liter of water, and as soon as fluid runs down your throat, the desire to drink gets shut off. What and how you drink make a difference in how much of the fluid stays in your body. The best way to stay hydrated is to sip small amounts of water frequently. More than about one-quarter cup at a time just makes you have to use the bathroom.
Flavored water can be a nice change from plain water, as well, and the salt and sugar in sports drinks have a couple of advantages when it comes to hydrating. Salt keeps you thirsty, and sugar helps your body absorb fluids faster.
So get yourself a hydration pack or bottle, fill it with water in the morning, at lunch and again after work. You will stay more alert and have better energy and reflexes. Drink up!
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