If you love exercising in the great outdoors don’t let the cold weather stop you! You don’t have to work out in a boring old gym just because the weather has reached freezing temperatures. In fact according to The Mayo Clinic, “exercise is safe for almost everyone, even in cold weather.” But just like working out in the summer it’s important to know how to keep yourself protected from the elements. Here’s how to keep your cold weather workout effective and safe.
Prepping for Your Cold Weather Workout
Let’s face it. Treadmills are boring! However, if you’re running, walking, or hiking outside in the winter there are important steps to take to keep yourself safe.
Even though doctors say you can exercise outside at any temperature we still suggest avoiding temps of 5 degrees or below. Your body works constantly to keep you at an average of 98.6 but the colder the weather, the harder it is to maintain that. Risking hypothermia and frostbite just isn’t worth it.
What to Wear
The most important thing you can do for yourself is layer up. According to an article from The Huffington Post, the most beneficial way to dress is in three layers. For the first layer, choose a synthetic, moisture-wicking fabric. This way when you sweat your clothes aren’t getting wet. For the second layer, wear wool or fleece. This is the best way to insulate yourself. The final outside layer should be waterproof. Not only does this protect you from rain but it’s also a fantastic wind blocker. Be sure to cover all of your extremities. Wear gloves, wool socks, a face mask, and most important a hat. Take into account that we lose the most body heat from our head it’s important to keep that covered at all times.
What Not to Wear
While layering up is incredibly important make sure you don’t wear too many. We know this may sound contradictory but all of those layers are going to cause sweat. When your clothes are wet in below freezing temperatures you’re on the fast track to hypothermia. It can be a bit tricky to know how many layers are too many or too few. Adjust the layering as you go. Your body will tell you what it needs.
Recognize Signs of Danger
Since hypothermia and frostbite can happen over time it’s hard to tell when it’s happening to you. However, recognizing these signs could protect you and your workout buddy. Check out our previous post for a refresher on recognizing frostbite and hypothermia.
Wind and Rain are Not Your Friends
To further avoid becoming hypothermic or getting frostbite we suggest not going out on rainy and windy days. Being wet makes you lose body heat 25 times faster than if you were dry. Wind pushes the moisture through your clothes making it that much harder to maintain your body temperature. On these days we suggest staying indoors if you want to work out.
When You’re Stuck Inside
If you like exercising outside but you don’t like being cold, the gym is not your only alternative. There are plenty of ways to get a good workout in non-traditional settings. Rec centers and many gyms offer fun classes that help you burn calories and keep muscles toned.
This is a good low impact workout. If you have injuries or want to work on your flexibility this is a great way to go. But don’t let it fool you. Even though it’s low impact these exercises can make you feel muscles you didn’t even know you had. On the really cold days, you could even try out hot yoga.
This is a great way to get both cardio and strength training all at once. It provides benefits like coordination, improved circulation, and balance.
There are many forms of karate. Tai Chi, Jujitsu, and Aikido are only a few. You can go to just about any town and find a Dojo. Karate is a great way to tone your body and burn calories quickly. 60 minutes has the potential to burn 889 calories depending on how intensely you work out.
Dance classes can be a fun way to work out with a large group. Studios usually offer plenty of options for beginners. Take a stab at classic ballroom dancing. Try something different with contra dancing. Or if you’re feeling adventurous try belly dancing! Not only is it fun but belly dancing can really improve your core strength.
You may consider this a summer sport but as long as you have an indoor pool, swimming is fun any time of year. You can swim laps or join a water polo team. Whichever you decide to do just make sure to dry off completely before going outside.
Being stuck in the traditional gym can get mundane pretty fast. Knowing that you’re not stuck there can keep you motivated all year round to meet your next weight loss goal or just to maintain your fitness. Just be sure to stay safe and warm.