by Sam Brosseau, MS, ATC

While it might seem like hydration is only a concern in the summertime, this association is not totally accurate and might increase our odds of experiencing symptoms of dehydration. Dehydration is not uncommon even when liquids are readily available, and this is even more true in the cold weather. During cold weather, the risk of dehydration can actually be higher in many instances. Without sweat as an indicator to drink, the awareness of our own dehydration is minimized and you may be less inclined to bring water with you wherever you go.

Ice In Your Veins

Hydration is typically a topic brought to the spotlight during the heat of the summer. Work Right even covered several hydrating-minded topics this last July during its “Hot Weather Cool Choices” theme. However, water is just as important for temperature regulation during the cooler months. Cold weather causes blood vessels to constrict making it more difficult for the heart to pump blood to our hands and feet. Because water makes up 50% of blood, staying hydrated dilutes the blood making it easier for our circulatory system to get blood flow to the muscles in our extremities. Cold hands and feet might mean you need to drink more fluids. Dehydration can also cause our core temperature to decrease, thereby expediting the onset of hypothermia.

Don’t Get Left In The Cold

While we might not be sweating as much, physical activity still increases the amount of water our respiratory system outputs. And, if we’re needing to add heavier clothing to our daily outfits to curb the effects of cold temperatures we experience, dehydration can catch us off guard once we start sweating. We may realize too late we didn’t bring any liquids with us. For those industrial athletes who work in cold environments, there is a constant need of awareness for proper hydration.

Stay Frosty

No need to sacrifice your health and wellness during the cooler months. Check out these stone-cold tips to keeping you hydrated:

  • Set reminders for yourself to drink consistently throughout the day. Don’t rely on your thirst to tell you when you need to drink water.
  • Avoid drinking too many caffeinated beverages, even if it’s tempting to drink a cup of hot coffee, it might dehydrate you even more.
  • If you don’t like drinking water in a cold environment, herbal teas, soup, and hot cider are a great alternative.
  • Eat foods that have a high-water content, like fruits and vegetables.
  • Alcohol can interfere with our perception of cold and should not be counted towards our fluid intake; Swap your Funky Cold Medina for a mocktail on colder days.
  • Wear multiple layers of clothing; If you do overdress, you can always remove layers to avoid excess sweating.

Sam Brosseau, MS, ATC || Sam grew up in New York and has been a certified Athletic Trainer in Washington after receiving a graduate degree from the University of Idaho in 2020. Outside of working with Industrial athletes, he’s usually at the gym catching alley-oops, lifting weights, playing an instrument, or eating at restaurants with his friends.

Be sure to check out our other blogs for further injury prevention education and tips for the industrial athlete from Work Right NW!