Trying to get fit in winter? The cold weather puts many people off outdoor exercise. However, there are actually many positive benefits to being active outdoors in the winter months.
Having fresh air and a dynamic environment is great for your mood. Don’t forget that winter sunshine can be just as powerful in the vitamin D-producing department if you don’t mind getting a little cooler. The main thing to consider is safety and appropriate clothing. Here are a few tips that might help you get out the door and active this winter.
Tip1- Layer it up: Layering is key. Wear a thin base layer and then put on your winter clothes (and yes it does make sense to wear more layers in the cold).
For example: t-shirt + warm underwear + long sleeve sports shirt + windbreaker jacket + waterproof/windproof pants/trousers+ light gloves + winter boots. Don‘t forget that you can also wear a hat. When the temperature drops it pays to dress for the occasion. Having lots of layers means you can easily adjust as you warm up.
Tip2- Warm-up first: Warming up is very important for your body to avoid injury when you start exercising in the cold. Try adding some extra warm-up time before any activity. This will help prevent muscle soreness after your workout.
A good way to start is to do your warmup exercises indoors before you head out. That way you can also get away with doing a shorter outdoor workout.
Tip3- Safety first: Before doing any outdoor exercise in cold temperatures, make sure that you know your body’s limits and always keep safety in mind.
Be aware of frostbite or hypothermia. Frostbite is when your skin and tissue are damaged by exposure to the cold. Hypothermia is a condition in which the body temperature drops below 35°C. Make sure you’re checking in with yourself throughout the workout and head back in to the warmth if you get too cold.
Tip4- Find an experienced partner or group: It is always a good idea to exercise with someone experienced in outdoor winter exercise, especially if you are just starting out.
It’s often better to go with people you know and trust so that you can keep each other safe. Working out with friends is always more fun than working out alone.
Tip5- Be aware of your surroundings: If you go outside in the winter, you should think about what might happen if things go wrong. For example, the weather can change very quickly and you should be prepared to change your plans.
It helps to know where the nearest emergency medical services are located just in case, especially if you have any health conditions.
Tip6- Drink more water: Your body loses just as much water in the winter even though you’re exercising in wet and cold conditions. So be sure to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your exercise session outside.
Tip7- Take a break: Especially if you’re just starting out with exercise, it is important to give your body a bit of rest. Do not force yourself to workout too hard at first. Because that will only lead to you getting sick and injured. If you need a break, then take one!
When it is especially cold, try taking a warm shower or bath before starting your workout. Your body temperature will rise a little and you’ll have a bit of warmth before heading out into the cold.
Tip8- Find a good pair of winter shoes: Before you exercise in the winter, you will need to find a good pair of winter shoes. They should have rubber soles because they’ll be able to keep your feet nice and dry when it is wet outside.
Winter shoes reduce shock in your muscles when you walk, jump or run. If they’re covered in snow, the soles will help to give lots of traction so you won’t slip or fall.
Tip9- Embrace the cold: Preparing yourself to withstand the elements can be a challenge, but do not let this discourage you from doing outdoor exercise in winter.
Learn how to dress up properly and take some tips from experienced training partners or PTs on their personal techniques when it comes to exercising outdoors in cold weather.
Lastly, have fun with your friends or family and enjoy the weather! Take time to appreciate nature’s beauty despite its coldness. And if it is too cold for your liking then just do exercises that can be done indoors such as going to the gym, home workouts, running on a treadmill, swimming in a heated pool, doing yoga or pilates…the list is endless.