We are hopefully nearing the end of another snowy, cold winter in Wisconsin. In addition to the heaps of snow to shovel and bitter cold to hide from, we are also inconvenienced with bone-dry air. I have lip balm in every coat pocket, enough hand lotion to stock a Bath and Body Works, and a fancy new humidifier. Still, my hands look as if they have aged 50 years, my lips are cracked and raw, and I’ve succumbed to several nosebleeds over the past few weeks.
Because wintertime humidity is so low, what little moisture that is around is quickly sucked up into the air. Moisture also evaporates from your body, leaving your skin, nose, and throat parched. It’s easy to forget to stay hydrated in the winter, but it’s just as vital as in those hot summer months. In addition to regulating temperature and participating in a myriad of other functions, drinking enough water can help restore moisture to your skin and mouth.
The National Association of Medicine recommends a total daily water intake of 3.7 liters for men (15 cups) and 2.7 liters for women (11 cups). This may seem like a daunting number, but take into consideration that there is fluid in all the foods you consume. Food counts for up to 20 to 30 percent of your water intake. Also, keep in mind that these numbers can vary greatly depending on the individual, their size, geographic location, and activity level.
Don’t rely on thirst alone to drive your fluid intake in the winter months. Urine color is a good indicator of hydration levels. To get the most accurate indicator of how hydrated you are, look at your first pee of the day. Since it’s been a while since you’ve had water, it will be more yellow than ideal, but if it’s starting to look more amber in color, you’ll need to up your intake throughout the day.
Exercising in the cold? You may not be sweating much, but your lungs have to work extra hard to humidify the dry air you breathe and warm it up. The harder your body works, the more you need to drink. Hydrate with room temperature or warm beverages since they help keep your internal temperature optimal.