Staying fit during the winter months can be challenging, especially if you’re not used to the freezing temperatures. Do we stay indoors, safe in the warmth and comfort of our homes and indoor gyms? Or do we head outdoors into the bitter cold for a workout? But just because it’s snowing outside doesn’t mean we have to compromise our fitness routines.
Both indoor and outdoor workouts have their advantages and disadvantages. For starters, indoor workouts are immune from the whims of the weather, and you can wear regular workout clothing. However, an indoor routine might not be as effective as an outdoor one, and being cooped up indoors can get old pretty quickly.
On the other hand, outdoor workouts can give us the challenge we need. It also helps that you can change your location, which can help prevent cabin fever. That said, winter weather isn’t exactly known for reliability, and you get caught in a dangerous snowstorm. If you do choose to work out outdoors, you need to come prepared.
1. Temper your expectations
Whether you’re training for personal fitness or sports, your performance won’t be as good as it is during the spring or summer. The cold can hamper physical performance, especially when the outdoor air drops below 40 degrees. Your blood vessels will constrict, which affects oxygen flow throughout your body. Your muscles and joints will feel more rigid as well. You may find that your warm-up exercises might not be as effective.
2. Dress accordingly
The weather is a fickle mistress, and you could put your health in danger if you don’t dress accordingly. Make sure to wear winter-appropriate clothing for your chosen sport. For instance, Spyder kids’ ski pants are recommended for children who like to ski. Runners are advised to wear layered clothing so they can easily peel off a layer or two if it gets too warm.
It also helps to wear sports underwear. Regular underwear may not be designed for movement and comfort. If the fit is too tight or the material not flexible enough, it could prevent proper movement and lead to injuries. If you’re going to move a lot, go for a flexible and durable material. Also, make sure to wear a synthetic fabric that doesn’t retain moisture. The last thing you need is to get chills because your sweat froze.
Finally, make sure to cover exposed parts, particularly your hands, feet, head, and face. That way, even if the temperature suddenly drops, you protect yourself against frostbite.
3. Protect against UV rays
It may be the middle of winter, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to protect yourself from the sun. Ice and snow can reflect ultraviolet rays, which means you can still get a sunburn if you’re not careful enough. Make it a point to wear sunscreen if you’re going outdoors. Protect your lips by wearing lip balm. It also helps to wear a hat and sunglasses to shield your eyes from the glare.
4. Drink lots of water
Outdoor exercise during the winter months puts people at a higher risk of dehydration. Because you’re not sweating as much, you might be inclined to think that you don’t need to rehydrate as often. But your body is still using up water, and you may not realize it, but you can still overheat even in freezing temperatures.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you need to drink water just above the replacement level, or the amount of water you shed every hour. Adjust your fluid intake based on the exercise’s intensity: half a liter for light exercises while a full liter for vigorous physical activity.
5. Prepare for possible dangers
Shorter days and fast-changing weather conditions make for a dangerous combo. For starters, only venture outdoors when there’s daylight out. If you want to work out in the dark, make sure to wear clothing fitted with reflective material. Some winter clothing brands sell garments made of reflective fabric. If that’s not available, buy a roll or two of reflective tape and apply it to your head, torso, legs, and arms. Finally, always bring your mobile phone with you so you can easily call for help if required.
A final word
These five tips will help you stay safe while working out in the cold. There will be days when it’s simply too cold out, and you need to stay indoors. If you don’t want to stay home, find alternative indoor venues in your community. You also may want to pursue other indoor physical activities while waiting for a blizzard to pass.