By Julie Chetney, Director of Senior Services

We can all agree that warmer temperatures means our bodies need more water and other fluids to stay healthy. What many don’t realize is that good hydration must be practiced all year round, even in the winter. Yes this is true, cold weather, well heated homes, illnesses such as colds and flu can all be very dehydrating. Here at Bishop's Commons we are always reminding our residents to make sure they are staying hydrated - especially at this time of year. 

In fact we all need to be making a conscious effort to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily to ensure that we all stay well hydrated in the winter as well. In fact, when the temperature drops we are less thirsty and even less aware of the importance of getting enough of the fluids we need for optimal health. Your body and mind can be affected by even a small water deficit. This deficit can cause fatigue, minor headaches and a general sense of not feeling mentally sharp. 

Here are some simple tips on how to practice good hydration during the cold winter months:

Drink before you get thirsty. This is the most important thing you can do to stay well hydrated.  If you wait until your body tells you that you are thirsty, it means you’re already slightly dehydrated and not drinking enough.

Drink a glass of water before and after activity or exercise. We sweat less when it’s cold outside and aren’t as conscious of our body’s need for fluids. 

For every cup of coffee, tea, or soda drink a glass of water. Caffeine or alcohol are diuretics and can contribute to dehydration by causing us to excrete water, so you need to balance them by drinking more water. 

Drink an extra glass or two if you are dieting. In the winter when many tend to cut down on the calories, we need even more water to help eliminate the extra waste we are producing as our bodies are breaking down fat. If you diet plan has you eating more fiber, increased water intake will help your body process that extra fiber. 

Increase water intake when you are ill. Winter colds, sore throats, flu and other illnesses will all dehydrate your body. Drinking lots of water is the best protections against getting sick and one of the best means of healing when you are feeling ill or run down. 

So as good as a hot cup of coffee or cocoa might taste on a cold winter day, just remember to reach for the water soon after you warm up and continue all day long and you’ll get though winter a healthier you!

About Julie: Julie Chetney is Director of Senior Services for The St. Luke Family of Caring affiliates. Julie has served in various roles with the organization over her twenty-one year career including Volunteer Coordinator at St. Luke, Senior Living Coordinator at Bishop’s Commons, and Director of St. Francis Commons. An expert in residential care options for older adults, Julie can be reached at 315-326-0840 or by email.