When winter arrives, you can put the blankets on your head and go back to sleep, or get suited up and go on an outdoor adventure! There is no reason to take a break from your physical activity when the temperature drops. In fact, exercising in cool weather has definite advantages over exercising in hot weather.
Recent scientific studies conducted in the USA indicate that exercising in the winter will help you overcome the well-known winter diseases such as influenza, colds and other winter diseases.
A piece of important information to know that will encourage you to go out for exercise in the winter is that workout in the cold is accompanied by a phenomenon of the rapid depletion of glycogen stores and an increase in the process of fat metabolism, as fat is a source of energy for exercise.
The low concentration of insulin levels during exercise in cold conditions also contributes to the use of fats as an energy source. Therefore, when getting lost between going out or staying in the house, remember that winter is an excellent period for those whose goal of the exercise is to lose weight. In general, winter conditions increase the rate of metabolism in the body even while at rest.
So what is important to know about winter fitness?
Here are the best tips on how to motivate yourself to stay active in the winter:
Planning and writing down exercise sessions ahead of time makes it more likely you’ll do them, and if you’re exercising before work , smooth the transition out of bed as much as possible. Set up your workout clothes and shoes the night before, pack your work bag and plan your outfit for the day and breakfast after workout.
2. Stay safe during cold-weather exercise
Exercising is safe for almost everyone, even in cold weather. But if you have any medical conditions, such as asthma, heart problems or Raynaud’s disease, consult your doctor first to find out what specific precautions you should take based on your situation or medications.
The following tips can help you stay safe — and warm — while exercising in the cold.
- Check weather conditions and wind chill
Check the forecast before you step out. Temperature, wind and humidity, as well as the time spent outdoors, are key factors in planning a safe cold weather workout.
Wind and cold combine to form the wind chill, a common factor in winter weather forecasts. The extremes of the wind chill can make outdoor exercise dangerous, even with warm clothing.
The wind can penetrate your clothing and remove the insulating layer of warm air that covers your body. Any exposed skin is vulnerable to frostbite.
If the temperature drops below zero F (-18 C) or if the wind chill is extreme, consider taking a break or opting for indoor exercise instead. Consider delaying your workout if it rains or snows, unless you have waterproof equipment.
Being wet makes you more exposed to the cold. And if you get wet, you may not be able to hold your body temperature high enough.
- Learn the signs of frostbite and hypothermia
Frostbite is a corporal injury caused by freezing.
Frostbite is most common on exposed skin, such as the cheek, nose and ears. But it can also occur on the hands and feet. Early warning signs include numbness, loss of feeling or a tingling sensation.
Get out immediately if you suspect you have frostbite. Warm the affected area slowly, but do not rub it, as this may damage the skin. If the numbness does not go away, seek emergency care.
Hypothermia is an abnormally low body temperature. When exposed to cold temperatures, the body begins to lose heat faster than the body is able to produce. Exercising in cold, rainy weather increases the risk of hypothermia. The risk also increases for both the elderly and children.
- Dress in layers
Dressing too warmly is a major mistake when working out in cold weather. Exercise creates a significant amount of heat – enough to make you feel much warmer than it actually is.The evaporation of sweat, however, pulls heat from your body and you feel chilled. The solution?
Dress in multiple layers that you can remove as soon as you start sweating and put on again if necessary. For your first layer, you want something that keeps moisture away from your skin, like the moisture wicking materials used in high performance sportswear. Next, add a layer of fleece; finally, cover with a thin waterproof coat.
You may need to do some experimentation to find the right outfit for the intensity of your exercise. If you’re skinny, you may need more protection than a heavier person.
Remember that stop-and-go activities, such as mixing walking and running, can make you more exposed to the cold if you sweat frequently and then get cold.
To protect your hands, wear a pair of fine gloves made of wicking material (such as polypropylene) underneath a pair of heavier gloves made of wool or fleece lined. Put on the gloves before your hands get cold, then remove the outer pair when your hands get clammy.
Consider buying exercise shoes that are half a size or larger than normal so you can wear thick thermal socks or an extra pair of regular socks. And don’t forget a hat to cover your head or a headband to protect your ears. If it’s very cold, consider wearing a scarf or ski mask to cover your face.
- Don’t forget sun protection
The cold weather doesn’t mean you can’t get burned. Don’t skimp on sunscreen. Keep wearing sunscreen during the day, no matter what the temperature. The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is only one of the essentials that dermatologists always carry in their gym bag.
- Carry your ID
With emergency contact information and bring a small amount of cash and a cell phone with you, especially if walking alone.Stay alert by not using the phone while walking and by keeping the volume on your headsets down.
- Let others know where you’re going and when you plan to be back.
- Be seen to be safe.
Wear light or brightly colored clothing during the day. Wear reflective material on your clothing and carry a flashlight at night. Put lights on the front and back of your bike.
3. Seek out an exercise partner or group
When you exercise individually, there is only one person you need to convince to skip a training session. But when working out with a partner or a group, there is some social pressure: “I have to show up because they’re there waiting for me”.
Exercise partners can also offer social back-up, camaraderie, and distraction in case of bad weather. There is also the advantage of making friends and hanging out with like-minded people.
Although you may be exercising at home, consider signing up for a live class on Zoom or Instagram – which are excellent winter training options that don’t require you to face the cold, pandemic or otherwise.
4. Do a Warm-Up First
The necessity of a good warm-up, no matter what the mercury content, cannot be ignored. But it is especially important to be prepared for cold weather exercise sessions. Dynamic warm-ups will increase blood flow and muscle temperature to assist in reducing the risk of injury.
The best dynamic warm-up depends on the type of exercise you are doing. But for all warm-ups, make sure they contain low-intensity moves that mimic the workout you are about to perform. If you are a runner, for example, a dynamic warm-up may include lunges and squats, arm swings and trunk activation work.
5. Breathe Right
Once you have accelerated your heart beat when temperatures start to fall to freezing, you realize that you don’t feel the same as when you work out in higher temperatures. It can actually hurt to breathe because of how your body reacts to cold, dry air.
You probably feel like you perspire less in cold weather, but don’t be fooled, you still need to drink. Dehydration seriously increases your risk of injury and slows down your performance. Keep hydrated by drinking water at room temperature before, during, and after your exercise.
7. Head into the wind –to start
To help reduce the impact and keep you core body temp up, make sure that (if you’re performing an activity in a loop, like running, cycling, or skiing) you head into the wind at the beginning. This guarantees that on the return trip, when you are at the maximum sweating intensity and at the greatest risk of losing body heat, you are not struggling with wind chill as well. Keep the wind at your back and wear a wind-breaking layer. Let it push you forward.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- No heat and humidity to deal with :Winter’s chill might even make you feel awake and refreshed.
- You may be able to train longer in cold weather, which will allow you to burn even more calories.
- It is an excellent way to take the sunlight (in small doses). Not only can light boost the mood of many people, but it also helps you gain some vitamin D.
Exercise builds your immunity during the cold and flu season. A few minutes a day is sufficient to prevent simple bacterial and viral infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.