By Marilyn Hoyt C.P.T N.A.S.M, C.E.C
We haven’t had a true blast of winter weather yet this year, but it is just around the corner. As the mercury drops, it’s tempting to skip working out and keep warm inside, instead. But even when it’s cold outside, regular physical activity is still important.
Don’t let cold weather be your excuse to slack off on your fitness. Here are six tips to help you stay safe while staying on track with your fitness this winter.
Check with your doctor first. If you have certain health conditions like asthma or heart problems, it may not be healthy for you to workout in the cold weather, so check with your physician first.
Pay attention to the temperature and wind chill. Before you step outside, check the temperature, paying special attention to the wind chill. You want to be sure you are dressed appropriately, so you’ll need to know just how cold it is outside. If the temperature falls below 0° and the wind chill is below 18° it may be best to move your workout inside for the day.
Layer up. Wearing layers will help keep your muscles warm until your body temperature heats up. Wear outer layers that can be removed and worn around your waist until you are done working out and ready to put them back on. For your inner layers, wear moisture-wicking, dry-fit fabrics instead of cotton to keep moisture away from your body. If your clothes hold moisture in, as you sweat, your body temperature will decrease, making it more difficult to stay warm.
Stay hydrated. It may not be hot outside, but drinking plenty of water is still important. Staying hydrated will help you recover more quickly after a workout, so drink water before, during, and after your workout.
Stretch. Before any workout, you should give your muscles time to warm up. Muscles that are tight and cold are more prone to injury. Dynamic stretching, which is active stretching, rather than stretching while sitting down, is ideal. A brisk walk is also great for getting your muscles warmed up before you begin your workout.
Take a friend. No matter what time of day, it’s always smart to workout with a buddy. Having someone else there with you is great motivation (it’s more difficult to sleep in and skip your workout when you know someone is waiting on you), and it’s also safer. In the unlikely event you (or your friend) stumble and fall, or begin feeling ill, a workout partner is someone who can call for help when needed.
If cold weather just isn’t for you, make plans to move your workout inside this winter. Schedule time to go to the gym, or exercise at home with HIIT (high intensity interval training) or your favorite workout video.