For those of you who live for outdoor exercise, the chill of winter can deliver a harsh blow to your workout routine. But you don’t need to allow the cold temperature to hold you back from achieving your fitness goals and enjoying outdoor exercise. Prepare for the wind and the snow with our helpful tips for cold weather fitness.
Check with your doctor. If you suffer from health conditions such as asthma, other respiratory disease, or a heart condition, you should check with your doctor before you begin exercising outdoors in cold climates.
Pay attention to the weather forecast. Certain conditions such as below freezing temperatures, icy surfaces, or extreme wind chills can make working out in cold weather unsafe. Stay inside if the weather truly doesn’t permit outdoor exertion.
Dress in layers. Many runners make the mistake of dressing too warmly in cold weather. As you exercise, you’ll begin to sweat. Remove layers as you get warmer and sweat more profusely. Once you begin to cool down, and your sweat begins to dry, replace a layer or two in order to prevent yourself from getting too chilly.
Protect hands, feet, and ears. Frostbite is a major enemy of the outdoor activity enthusiast. Protect your hands, feet, and ears with thin gloves and hats, as most of your blood flow is concentrated on your body’s core while working out. You may also consider purchasing shoes one size too big, allowing you to wear thick socks.
Apply sunscreen. Runners often make the mistake of neglecting to wear sunscreen in cold weather. You can just as easily get sunburned in winter as in summer. To protect yourself, be sure to apply a photostable sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
Mind the wind. Whenever possible, try to allow yourself to do the second half of your workout with the wind at your back. This decreases the chances of getting chilled if you have worked up a sweat.
Drink fluids. While more obvious on hot days, drinking plenty of fluids should be a priority in an effort to stay hydrated even when conditions are cold.
Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Knowing the early signs of both frostbite and hypothermia can help you stay safe in the cold. Early frostbite signs include numbness, loss of feeling, or stinging sensations, while signs of hypothermia include intense shivering, slurred speech, loss of coordination, and fatigue. You should immediately seek medical attention for both.
Change afterwards. Whatever you choose to wear, be sure that after working out in the cold, you change your clothes. It can be a challenge to warm up in sweaty, cold clothes, especially as your body temperature drops as you rest.
Know when to take it inside. Now that you understand how to exercise safely in cold weather, it’s important to know when to take your workout inside. If you feel any of the early symptoms of frostbite or hypothermia, or if conditions fall below freezing or become icy, return indoors.
You don’t have to revert to running on the treadmill or walking the mall to get your workout in during cold weather. By making an effort to stay warm and safe, you can enjoy working out outside no matter the weather, year round.