What better way to have that perfect summer body than to start working out in the winter? Don’t let bad weather excuses keep you holed up in the house until spring! While working out in the cold weather may seem like a feat to some, it can actually yield many health and fitness benefits. Read on to learn a few of the best tips for staying safe and warm, while staying fit in the winter.
Tip # 1 - Dress Appropriately
Winter workout gear has to keep you dry first and warm second. Protect yourself against precipitation because your body does an amazing job at regulating its’ temperature. Layer up by choosing thin synthetic fabrics ideal for exercise. Your base layer should be tight, against the skin, in order to insulate the body. Then, add an optional middle layer such as a fleece for added warmth, and a final, outer, water-repellent, layer like a wind breaker. Remove your layers as necessary, but don’t overdress because exercise will warm you up!
Tip #2 - Protect Your Skin
Low temperatures produce cold, dry air which can cause problems for your skin. Keep your body hydrated to combat the chill. Drink plenty of water, moisturize your skin and face, and always wear chapstick or lip balm with SPF of at least 15.
Tip #3 - Cover Your Extremities
As the temperature drops, our blood flow and body heat is naturally directed in toward your core. Therefore, our hands, fingers, ears, nose and toes, are parts of us most affected by chilly weather and are more susceptible to frostbite. Wear mittens or gloves, moisture-wicking socks, a hat or headband, shoe covers, and performance undergarments to keep all your digits toasty.
Tip #4 - Don’t Forget to Breathe
When your heart rate increases, so will your breathing. But as cold, dry air tends to narrow airway passages, it can actually make breathing hard quite painful. The key to breathing easy in cold weather is to wrap a scarf or bandana around your mouth while exercising. This will keep your inhalations moist and warm, helping you to breathe comfortably.
Tip # 5 - Always Warm Up First
You should probably never skip a good warm-up but this is especially true during the winter months. It is proven that colder temperatures increase the risk of strains and sprains. Experts recommend warming-up indoors, or if you can’t, give your body time to become conditioned with a slow or “dynamic” outdoor warm up.
Tip #6 - Run Like the Wind
Wind chill factors greatly impact the way your body will react during a cold weather workout. The faster you’re moving, the higher the wind chill factor, and the higher your risk for hypothermia. You’ll want to reduce wind chill once you’re sweaty and have a greater chance of losing body heat, which is usually during the second half of your workout. At this time, run with the wind at your back.
Tip # 7- Cool Down & Bundle Up
It can be critical to let your heart rate normalize with a cool down after performing sustained physical activity. Make sure you ease your way out of your winter workout by repeating your warm up afterwards. Once you’re finished moving, you can chill to the bone very quickly due to all of the sweat. Change your gear and hop in the shower as soon as possible to stay warm!
Tip #8- Winter Fitness Pays Off!
As long as you stay safe and warm, stay fit during the wintertime can certainly have extra benefits. The most popular perk is that you burn more calories and increase your endurance performance. Because your body is working harder, your metabolism revs up and burns more calories and fat to produce energy. By challenging yourself in the cold weather you are also strengthening your heart, lungs, and circulatory system, thus improving your overall health.