Bringing the Heat to a Winter Workout

As we head into the winter season, the motivation to stick to a workout routine may drop off right along with the temperature. Particularly for those that exercise outdoors or are heading home for the holidays but do not have access to a gym. Despite the change in weather, it is important to continue to maintain a fitness routine even if exercising outdoors is the only viable option. This may not sound like much fun at first but it turns out that performing physical activity in cold weather can be very invigorating. Because the body is forced to work harder in the cooler temperatures, endorphin production is increased which leads to a happier state of mind. In addition, exposure to natural sunlight can help fight depression. Exercising in cold weather is one of those things that you may have to talk yourself into doing at first but once you’re finished, you’ll feel great and be more likely to do it again. There are things to keep in mind when preparing to exercise outside during the winter season in order to stay safe and protect the body from harsh weather conditions.

  • Protect Your Hands, Feet, and Ears When It’s Cold: When it’s cold, blood flow is concentrated in the core of the body. Wear a thin pair of tighter fitting gloves underneath a pair lined with wool or fleece.
  • Dress in Layers: The first layer should be a thin synthetic material which draws sweat away from the body, followed by a fleece and topped off with a waterproof layer. Avoid cotton close to the body because it stays wet.
  • Consider Decreasing the Intensity of Your Workout: A cooling muscle causes it to become weaker.
  • Warm Up Longer & More Vigorously: Doing so heats up the body and gets the muscles prepared for the workout.
  • Exercise in the Afternoon: If possible, choose the afternoon for your workout when temperatures are highest.
  • Sometimes It’s Just Too Cold to Exercise Outside: Keep an eye on the windchill factor in order to determine the appropriateness of an outdoor workout. Early signs of Hypothermia include weakness, shivering, slurred speech, and confusion.