Hydration for Winter Sports Athletes

Kelly Herdrich
Yahoo! Contributor NetworkDecember 12, 2011

When I head out for a run in the sweltering heat or swim a few laps in the pool, I never forget to grab a drink. Something about the hot weather outside combined with an increased activity level reminds me to drink up. They same isn't true in the winter months, when my predominantly indoor workout regimen doesn't leave me as hot or sweaty.

Whether you're exercising in the off-season, playing a winter sport like basketball, or skiing or sledding, hydration is just as important for athletes in the winter months as it is in the summer months. What should student athletes know about staying hydrated while playing winter sports?

Cold weather may dehydrate you more quickly.

Though you may feel thirstier when you're hot, there's evidence to suggest that you actually get dehydrated more quickly in cold weather. Keep that in mind if you're heading out for a run on the track or skiing on your school's cross-country team.

Don't wait to drink.

Drink water throughout your practice instead of waiting until you feel thirsty to grab your water bottle. Students may be more likely to wait to drink until they're in the middle of practice, which can be especially detrimental during the winter. Encourage athletes to drink regularly before, during, and after practice.

Consider water-rich foods.

When it's cold outside, an ice cold glass of water may be the last thing that you want to drink. Try getting some of your water on a daily basis from water-rich foods, primarily fruits and vegetables. Not only will they add make a healthy addition to a student athlete's diet, but they'll help them stay hydrated, too.

Don't turn to coffee.

They want an energy boost and to warm up, so it's only natural to crave a cup of coffee during the winter. However, flavored coffee drinks are often high in calories and low in nutritional value. They aren't as effective as hydrating as water, in fact, they'll actually dehydrate you. The boost of energy will fade quickly. Avoid them as a pre- or post-practice hydration tool.

Consume other (healthy) beverages.

There's a place in your winter diet for beverages other than water. Encourage students to drink milk or sports drinks (not energy drinks) that aren't too high in sugar. They'll offer a good mixture of liquids to help them stay hydrated. In addition, sports drinks replenish lost electrolytes and milk can provide necessary calcium and nutrients to your growing teen's body.

Don't let winter fool you. Staying hydrated is just as important for student athletes during the winter months as it is in the summer.

Kelly Herdrich has a bachelor's degree in education. She's a mother of three future student athletes. Kelly was born a Washington Redskins fan. She'll die a Washington Redskins fan.