Is your motivation to stay active dropping with the dropping temperatures? Don’t let the cold and snowy winter months be a roadblock to your fitness routine! There are plenty of opportunities to be physically active outdoors throughout the winter. There are many physical and mental health benefits to exercising outdoors – fresh air, being in nature, Vitamin D from the sunshine, improved mood, socialization with a workout partner…and no gym membership fees!
Here are some of the safety considerations I take as I prepare for my weekly Sunday trail run. I always start by checking the forecast in advance. Doing so will give you a sense of current temperature conditions, windchill and anticipated precipitation to help plan your activity and time duration accordingly.
Learn to layer
Figuring out the appropriate gear takes a bit of trial and error depending on how intense your training session will be. I tend to add extra loose-fitting layers so that I can easily peel off a layer as heat is generated throughout the training session.
Cover up your extremities
Your head, ears, face, hands, and feet tend to feel the cold the fastest, as your blood flow is concentrated toward your body’s core. Keep them covered with gloves, thicker socks and a hat or headband. I am a big fan of slipping hand warmers into my gloves for extra warmth.
Be bright and choose the right gear
If you tend to exercise early in the morning or at the end of the day when it is dark, consider using a headlight or reflective clothing so you are easily seen. Always wear protective headgear if you are cycling or are on the slopes snowboarding or skiing. When conditions get snowy and icy, consider adding spikes to your running shoes to prevent slips and falls. The best safety precaution you can take is to have a workout partner alongside you. If you will be training solo, message a family member or friend as to what your plans are and where you are going.
Have a pre-workout snack and stay adequately hydrated throughout your workout. It is still possible to become dehydrated in colder temperatures.
Warm-up and adjust accordingly
Start slow and gradually ease into your favorite winter activity. Spend a couple of minutes elevating your heart rate and then do some simple stretches for the muscles that you will be utilizing. Be smart about adjusting your routine based on how the weather is impacting how you feel. Scale things down by intensity or time duration if need be.
Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia:
Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of these serious health conditions.
Remember that adequately recovering will help you prepare for that next training session. Refuel with good nutrition, replenish your fluids, get enough sleep, and be flexible with your training plans.
When the outdoor conditions aren’t optimal, bring your workout indoors. Check out our Vitality Fit Minutes for quick and effective indoor training options!