Vermont winters can be long… so we may as well embrace the sports of the season and play! For some, winter is spent skiing and snowshoeing out in the woods. Others enjoy hockey or skating at the rink, or perhaps ice fishing at the local pond. Being prepared will make your time outside more comfortable and fun.
It’s important to stay hydrated at any time of the year to feel your best and perform at your peak. During the winter, staying hydrated can be more of a challenge. In the cold, water vapor is lost in breath, as the body warms and humidifies the cold air. This water vapor can be seen as “steam” when breathing out. People may also delay drinking to delay urinating, as winter clothing is cumbersome and facilities not always convenient. And even though you may work up a sweat on a cold day, the cold temperatures blunt the thirst mechanism, so you may not “think to drink.” Dehydration is common in winter athletes, and can lead to reduced performance and fatigue.
Warm beverages will help to hydrate, and unless you are hot, cold fluids can cool you off and give you the chills. On this topic, shivering is the body’s way of warming itself. The movement uses the energy stored in muscles to warm the body, rather than for your sport, so shivering can lead to fatigue. This is especially important for children, as they can quickly get chilled, fatigued, and hungry. If you plan on being outside for more than an hour, snacks of 100 – 200 calories every hour can help refuel your muscles and keep you going. Without regular refueling, you may find you feel more fatigued and chilled.
What should go in your pack for you to enjoy on cold winter’s day?
- For fluids, an insulated thermos will keep drinks, such as caffeine-free tea or cocoa, warm. It’s important to keep your water bottle and other beverages from freezing. Water freezes from the top down, so put your well-sealed bottles in your pack upside down. Flexible water bottles can also be carried in an inside pocket of your jacket, using body heat to keep the water warm.
- For snacks, crunchy foods tend to work best, as soft or chewy snacks often freeze into bricks at low temperatures. Whole grain crackers with nut butters or cheese, pretzels, granola bars, trail mix, Fig Newtons, and dried fruit are all high energy snacks. It’s always good to pack more than you think you’ll need.
As fall becomes winter with the arrival of the first flakes of snow, resist the urge to hibernate! Staying active in the winter can help keep the winter blues at bay. The proper gear, smart eating, and staying hydrated will help you stay warm and enjoy Vermont’s winter wonderland.
Speak to our nutritionists at Winter Sports Night on November 13, 2014, please register at FletcherAllen.org/sportsnight. You can call (802) 847-3120 or email RehabTherapies@vtmednet.orgwith further question regarding this event. This is a free event and open to all ages.