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Don’t Let Your Winter Workout Hibernate. Tips For a Safe & Comfortable Outdoor Workout

Authored by Dr. Thomas Nguyen. February 10, 2021

Well, it’s that time of year again. The holidays are long over, but those pesky extra pounds from indulging in the holiday eats. Unfortunately, as the snow piles up (or in the case of this year, the never-ending threat of snow) and the temperature drops, so does our motivation to exercise. Just because the temperature outside has dropped does not mean you have to hibernate and put your exercise program on hold. There are many activities to keep you healthy and working towards those New Year’s resolutions until spring comes around. However, there are some precautions that you must take before stepping out into the cold to begin your winter workout.

4 TIPS TO ENSURE A SAFE AND COMFORTABLE OUTDOOR WINTER WORKOUT

1. Check the Temperature & Wind Child Before Heading Out!

While exercising outdoors in colder temperatures can be a relief from the sweltering heat and humidity of the summer, be sure to check both the temperature and the wind chill. Once the temperature drops below freezing, think twice about lacing up those shoes and heading outside for your workout, and consider ways to be active indoors. Running/exercising outdoors in the cold increases the air movement around you and can make sub-zero wind chills even more extreme, not to mention breathing in cold air without the proper protection can damage your lungs. If it’s raining or snowing, consider turning to the indoor exercises as well, as having wet clothing makes you much more susceptible to the chilly air.

2. Dress in layers

The first layer should be made out of synthetic material, such as polypropylene, to help remove sweat away from the body. Avoid fabrics such as cotton, which can actually contain the moisture within your clothing, making your body colder. Wear an outer layer that is made out of a breathable material such as Gortex. This will protect you against the wind and the elements while still allowing heat and moisture to escape, thus reducing the risk of overheating and chilling. Nevertheless, make sure to avoid over-dressing, as your body will heat up as you begin to exercise. Find the perfect ratio of clothing that works for your body–not too hot, not too cold. 

3. Wear a Hat and protect your extremities

When the body is exposed to the cold, its first defense is to conserve core heat and direct blood flow away from the extremities. This is in part due to the majority of your body’s heat escaping through your head, feet, and hands.                                                                                                                                                                                             

  • Wear a face mask to help warm the air you are breathing–this is a double way to protect yourself from COVID-19 as well.
  • Wear a warm, snug hat to help your body retain heat, which will allow your circulatory system to distribute more heat to the rest of your body. Make sure your ears are covered! 
  • Wear gloves or mittens to allow your fingers to share body heat.
  • Wear thick wool socks to keep your feet warm. Allow enough room in your shoes to accommodate a larger sock in those winter boots! 

4. Stay hydrated

This is especially important in cold weather as fluids still escape through sweat and cold air. The cold air also has a drying effect that can increase the risk of dehydration, so even though it doesn’t feel like you are losing a lot of water, you are! Stay hydrated before, during, and after your winter walks. 

WHEN RUNNING AND EXERCISING OUTSIDE, IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO YOUR BODY AND THE SIGNALS IT IS GIVING YOU. 

BE SAFE AND HAVE FUN!

About The Author

Dr. Thomas Nguyen

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