Don’t Let Your Winter Workout Hibernate. Tips For a Safe & Comfortable Workout
Well, it’s that time of year again. The holidays are long over, but those pesky extra pounds from indulging on turkey, stuffing, and an assortment of desserts have stuck around. Unfortunately, as the snow piles up (or in the case of this year, the 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 workout.
Tips to Ensure a Safe and Comfortable Outdoor Winter Workout
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. A good rule of thumb is to use indoor exercise equipment if the temperature drops below zero. Reason being, running/exercising increases the air movement around you and can make sub zero wind chills even more extreme.
Dress in layers. The first layer should be made out of a 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. 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.
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.
- Wear a hat to help your body retain heat, which will allow your circulatory system to distribute more heat to the rest of your body.
- 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.
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.