When the wind chill picks up and the temperature drops, it’s reasonable to want to head indoors and hibernate for the season. Unfortunately you don’t have that luxury; exercising is as imperative during the winter as it is in any other time of year. While you may be inclined to move your workouts indoors, you may also find that you’re up the challenge of burning calories in the icy cold. If you plan to exercise outdoors this winter, these are the tips you need to know.
Before you venture out for exercise, be sure to seek your doctor’s advice. This is especially important if you have health conditions that can be exacerbated by the cold weather, such as heart problems, Raynaud’s disease or asthma. Even after you get the green light from your physician, always check the temperature and wind chill before working out in the cold. Since frostbite can affect any exposed skin when the wind and temperature hit dangerous levels, it’s vital that you understand the signs of hypothermia and frostbite.
According to the Mayo Clinic, emergency help is needed immediately if you start to experience loss of coordination, slurred speech, uncontrollable shivering or fatigue, all of which can be symptoms of hypothermia. If you feel stinging or numbness in your skin, frostbite could be setting in, which means that it is time to head indoors and seek help if necessary. Remember to hydrate and adjust your workout time based on the conditions outside, and always apply sunscreen even if the sun is hidden behind cloud cover. Working out with a buddy can make your sessions safer, but if you prefer to go it alone, the Mayo Clinic suggests letting someone know about your workout plans. If it’s too cold outside, it’s okay to decrease your outdoor workout sessions or skip the fresh air completely and take it indoors.
Dress for the weather
A bulky yet warm coat is not ideal for exercising outdoors even when the weather is frigid. Instead you’ll want to dress in layers that you can remove and put back on as your body temperature changes. In rainy or snowy conditions, you’ll need waterproof gear.
Cotton is not the ideal material for your workout wardrobe, according to The American Heart Association, which suggests donning workout clothes made from moisture-wicking fabrics. For maximum comfort, top your wardrobe with a layer of fleece and then with an additional waterproof layer. Your ears, feet, hands and head need special attention and coverage, so be sure to don gloves, warm and dry socks and the appropriate headgear. Since winter means limited sunshine, the Mayo Clinic also recommends that you make sure your clothing is reflective.
Exercising outdoors offers a lot of options to get your heart rate up, according to the AHA. Keep it simple with a hike or a brisk walk. Rake the leaves to get your blood pumping while improving the health of your lawn. Shoveling snow can be a serious chore in winter, but it’s also a good way to burn some calories. Going for a jog or run will fill your lungs with fresh air while taking a turn on the ice in your skates or heading down a snowy hill on your sled can make you feel like a kid again. If you live in a snow-blessed area, bust out the snowshoes or cross-country skis for an intense outdoor workout.
Just because it’s chilly outside doesn’t mean you have to go inside for your daily dose of exercise. If you dress for the weather and are mindful of your body’s needs and limitations, you can successfully embrace the cold with an outdoor workout.
This article is presented by Bredemann Toyota in Park Ridge, Illinois.