Sigh… We knew it couldn’t last forever. Although it’s been pretty mild so far, we know what’s next. Fall is here, and winter’s coming.
It’s easy to think that the cold and the puffy clothes we wear are a good excuse to hit the buffet a little harder and to lower the fitness goals. However, there are a lot of great ways to stay fit and have fun during the winter months. Even if you don’t join an organized activity, get outside for some fresh air and natural vitamin D. This blog post is dedicated to tips on how to exercise safely and comfortably throughout the winter.
Get a physical
Before you begin any exercise program at any time of the year, it is always a good idea to get a physical. This precaution is particularly important during winter when your body works harder to stay warm and to climb over snow. Conditions like diabetes, asthma, and heart disease may need to be managed differently in these conditions. Your doctor will be able to give you proper guidance.
Hydrating while exercising in cold weather is just as important as when you are exercising during the summer. Drink water or sports drinks before, during and after your workout, even if don’t feel thirsty. You can become just as dehydrated in the cold as in the heat from sweating, breathing, and increased urine production, but it may be harder to notice during cold weather because some of the moisture escapes as a gas rather than a liquid.
As a side note, bring your water or sports drink with you as most parks turn off the water fountains during the winter.
Dressing for the weather
When you run, your body typically feels like it is 10 to 15 degrees warmer than it is outside. (i.e. If it’s 40 degrees, once you get running you will feel like it’s 50 to 55 degrees outside.) When you first go outside to get started, you should feel cold. Otherwise, you will get really uncomfortably hot during your run.
Your bottom/base layer including your socks should be wicked.
Sleeveless vests are a nice next layer.
Keeping your extremities warm during your workout may seem trivial, but it’s actually serious business. When it’s cold, blood flow is concentrated on your body’s core, leaving your hands, feet, and ears vulnerable to frostbite. Take it from someone who has damaged her feet standing in slush waiting for a race to begin; it lasts a lifetime. I recommend wearing wicked socks, gloves, and hats/head bands. I buy thin, small gloves and hats from the sales bin that I can tuck into my pockets easily once I warm up.
Additionally, you can buy hand and feet warmers at most drug stores. Simply slip them into your shoes, gloves or even pockets for warm hands and feet.
Pay attention to the sun. Many winter days seem dreary and overcast, but the reflecting snow can be deceivingly strong. Wearing sunscreen and sunglasses may seem counterintuitive, but they will keep your eyes and skin safe. Sunglasses can also keep your eyes safe from hail and sleet as well as excessive brightness.
Know when cold is too cold.
Know what to bring with you when you run.
Know what hypothermia and frostbite look like.
Have a buddy.
There are plenty of activities that you can enjoy outdoors through the winter months, and these tips will help you stay warm and healthy. If you end up experiencing any aches and pains after exercising, make sure to schedule a complimentary injury screening at your nearest Athletico location.