Don't neglect hydration in winter

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You may not feel like drinking water at this time of year but don’t forget to up your hydration levels

It’s not difficult to remember to stay hydrated when it’s hot in summer, but it’s important for runners all year round - for performance, adequate recovery and all-round good health.

Peter Antonio, a registered nutritionist at the University of Birmingham Sport, explains why dehydration can be a problem this time of the year.

“Staying hydrated during colder months can be challenging, but planning ahead will ensure you keep those legs moving,” he says. “Exercising in cold conditions can cause a reduction in dexterity and coordination, muscular strength and aerobic work capacity.

“A few factors influence cold-weather hydration, including cold-induced diuresis (CID), respiratory water losses, cold-weather clothing, the metabolic cost of movement and reduced fluid intake.

“CID essentially causes an increase in the amount of urine you excrete. As dehydration sets in however, fluid loss is reduced. Respiratory water losses can also contribute to dehydration. This factor depends on your ventilatory volume (VE) and the water vapor in the air. If VE is high and the ambient air is dry (low humidity), then more fluid will be lost from the body.

“Inappropriate cold-weather clothing can cause the biggest loss of fluid. If effort, temperature and clothing are not carefully balanced to metabolic rate (effort), significant heat storage and sweating can occur. Potentially litres of fluid can be lost through sweat.

“The most important factor in ensuring you stay hydrated during the colder months is regularly drink enough. A reduced sensation of thirst can occur due to the cold and increased stress levels, so make it a habit to drink regularly.”