Exercising in the wintertime can seem rather daunting. It is really much too cold and slippery outside to really entice you to want to go out and run. And without the impending pressure from swimsuit season, it can lose precedence in your mind.
Winter weather can discourage even the most dedicated of athletes but winter does not need to spell out the end of your outdoor exercises. There are some easy ways to ensure that you will be getting the most of your winter exercise routine in the safest of ways.
1. Be aware of the weather forecast
Before heading out the door on your winter run, jog or walk, make sure that you check the weather. Check it for the entire time that you plan on being outside. Working out in the cold is possible, but only if you are safe about it. Make sure that there are not any storms coming in, these could potentially lower your body temperature to dangerous levels.
When looking at your local weather report, also check out the wind chill factor. This is measured by combining the moisture that is in the air and the actual wind speed/direction. While it could be 32 degrees Fahrenheit out there, the wind chill may make it feel like it is 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and that is a big difference.
Because exercising in the cold can be an entirely new experience, start off slow. It is suggested that you find a route that is close to home so that you if there is some freak weather, it is just too cold or you slip on ice, you can quickly get home safely and out of the elements. Where ever you choose to make your route, try to avoid open places by water and opt instead for places with high buildings or lots of large trees. The trees and buildings will shield you from some of the wind, making it easier on you to complete your run.
2. Dress in layers
The cold wind outside takes away your insulating layer of warmth as it rushes past you. Wearing layers can help keep some of this body heat around longer, making your workout safer.
When thinking about what layers to put on, it is important to wear layers that make it possible to shed some when you get hot once you begin your exercise. That way, you can relieve yourself from the excess heat while still being able to put this protective layers back on when you get cold.
The first layer should consist of a synthetic fabric that pulls the sweat away from your skin. From there, add on a layer of wool for insulation and top it all off with a breathable, waterproof jacket. The only way you will know what works best is if you experiment with it and find out what is best for you. But always make sure that your top layer is waterproof to help maintain your precious body heat.
3. Protect your body parts.
Protecting your body from the cold should be your top priority when considering any winter exercise. Especially protect your hands, feet and head.
In the cold, your body focuses on keeping the inner body warm, losing its focus on the parts that tend to be left uncovered. This leaves a chance for hypothermia to sink in or for frostbite to happen.
Hypothermia occurs when your body cannot replenish its warmth as fast as it is losing it. The warning signs include shivering, fatigue and loss of concentration. It is vital that you seek medical attention if you think you are getting hypothermia. Frostbite can occur on any exposed skin under -15 degrees Fahrenheit after 30 plus minutes of exposure.
Make sure that the weather is above 5 degrees Fahrenheit before you go out. Pay attention to your body and be aware of any tingling or numbness that you may experience. Wear a thin pair of gloves under thicker ones to keep your hands protected. Buy shoes that are specifically for your winter exercises. Get them half a size too big so that you can wear thick insulating socks, and make sure they have high traction for the slippery ice and snow.
4. Stay safe
With the winter comes the thought that you cannot get a crispy sunburn. Sadly, this is not true. You still need to make sure that you are applying sunscreen when you go out, especially when on the snow or in higher altitudes. Those sun rays can still reach you and any unprotected skin you may have showing.
Dehydration is also still something to keep in mind when breaking a sweat in the cold. It is harder to tell when the symptoms are sinking in though so make sure that you are drinking the water that your body would normally need when executing these activities.
As always when it comes to any exercise, ask your doctor if you are in the clear to work out in the winter. The cold weather can affect your health in ways you could not imagine, and it might react with whatever medications you may be taking. Going out and getting the exercise your body needs is crucial for your overall health. In the cold your body works harder, producing more of the happy chemical, endorphins. So not only can you beat the wintertime blues, but also you will be keeping your body in shape for summer!