It’s that time of year again. The temperature has dropped and the dark nights are here, but that doesn’t mean you should give up your outdoor exercises, no matter how tempting the sofa and a hot water bottle might be. Exercising outside is good for your body and mind no matter the time of year, and let’s not forget the benefits of fresh air and vitamin D. Here we give you some tips to help you carry on your routine even in the cold.
1. Dress with dry layers.
Avoid clothes made from cotton which hold moisture. Choose synthetic fibers instead, such as polyester or nylon, as these are designed to dry quickly so you won’t get cold in the winter rain. You also need to wear layers to trap warm air next to your body and keep out the winter elements. First, put on a thin base layer made of synthetic fabrics to help keep sweat away from your skin. If it’s really cold outside, wear a middle layer, such as a fleece, for extra warmth, then, add an outer layer to protect you from the weather such as a lightweight nylon windbreaker. As soon as you start to feel like your body temperature is at about baseline, then start discarding layers so you don’t overheat.
2. Go Bright
Bright clothes are better for exercising outside in winter when the nights get darker earlier. Poor visibility from the lack of light and bad weather makes it tougher for others to see you. Wear brightly colored clothing whenever possible and consider adding reflective gear or lights to your outfit. Apart from helping others see you, wearable lights are great because they improve visibility for you, too, to help prevent missteps and falls as you can see where you are going.
3. Do a Warm-Up First
Warm-ups are needed no matter the season, but it’s especially important for exercising outside in winter. Dynamic warm-ups increase the blood flow and temperature in your muscles which helps to decrease the risk of injuries as you head out into the cold.
4. Check Your Traction
Exercising outside in winter can get slippery if any rain, snow, or ice has fallen. It’s important to try and stay on salted surfaces. Back roads and trails may not be as well maintained and may have hidden obstacles under the snow or leaves that could lead to ankle injuries. If you do plan to run on snowy, icy surfaces, attaching snow or ice spikes to your running shoes will help you maintain traction to reduce the risk of falls.
Cold air is dryer and can often hurt to breathe in. The cold makes airway passages narrow, which makes inhalation more difficult. Breathing in through your nose can help warm and humidify the air, but that’s not always feasible when you’re really exerting yourself. Wrapping a bandanna or scarf around your mouth can help trap water vapor to keep the air moist as you continue to breathe.
6. Cool Down and Warm-Up
Once you have stopped moving after a cold-weather workout, you’ll get chilled fast from the wet and cold air. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to cool down. Whatever the weather, a cool-down is important to eliminate exercise by-products and reduce potential muscle soreness. Then it’s time to get out of your damp workout clothes, which can suck away warmth. A warm shower and dry, clean clothes help keep that chill away.