Just because winter weather is approaching doesn’t mean you need to stop working out! Rather, it’s time to focus on the many ways you can stay safe and warm during your winter workouts.
5 Ways to Stay Safe During Winter Outdoor Workouts
- Pay attention to weather conditions and wind chill. Always be sure to check the forecast before you head outside. Temperature, wind, moisture, and the length of time you’ll be outside are all important factors. Wind chill extremes can make exercising outdoors unsafe, even if you dress warmly. Protect your hands and feet. At wind chill levels below minus 18 degrees F, frostbite can occur on exposed skin in 30 minutes or less, and if the temperature dips below 0 degrees F, or the wind chill is extreme, consider taking a break or choosing an indoor exercise instead. It’s okay to put off your workout if it’s raining or snowing. Waterproof gear will help, but remember that getting wet makes you more vulnerable to the cold. And, if you get soaked, you may not be able to keep your core body temperature high enough to prevent frostbite and hypothermia.
Dress in layers. Dressing too warmly is one of the biggest mistakes people make during the winter months. When you exercise, you generate lots of body heat, making it feel much warmer than it really is. When sweat is evaporated, you lose heat from your body. The best way to combat this is to dress in layers so you can remove clothing as soon as you start to sweat. You can then add clothing back once your body cools down.
Warm-up your muscles indoors. Before you head out the door, move around indoors so you can get the blood flowing and gradually raise the heart rate, without breaking a sweat. This will help your workout feel easier, sooner into the workout. Try running in place, walking up and down your stairs, doing some jumping jacks, or even jumping rope. Just be sure to get your muscles warmed up and your heart beating faster before you take your workout outside.
Drink, drink, drink (water)! Even when it’s cold, you still lose water through sweating. So it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the winter. Drink half your weight in ounces throughout the day (e.g., if you weigh 150 pounds, aim for 75 ounces of fluids per day).
Find stable footing–and forget about speed. If you are heading out in snowy weather, look for snow that has been packed down, which creates better traction. Run on the street if it has been plowed and is safe from traffic. Be sure to watch out for black ice, or a light dusting of snow covering patches of ice. Slow your pace, as snow and ice can make things very dicey. When you do run or walk, don’t worry about how fast or slow you’re going. Just get into a rhythm that feels easy and comfortable.
Don’t let cold weather be the culprit that ends your exercise routine. Follow these tips to keep your winter workouts consistent.