The cold weather is upon us, and soon we’ll be in the heart of the winter. This means lots of time indoors which can get some of us feeling very pent-up, especially if you like being active outdoors during the warmer seasons.
So if you’re trying to find ways to keep your outdoor workouts going throughout the cold season, follow these three rules for exercising outdoors in the winter:
Dress In Layers
It is extremely important to dress appropriately in the cold weather. You’ll want to bundle up due to the colder temperature, but make sure you’re not just throwing on a puffy jacket with a cotton shirt underneath.
Dressing in layers allows you to properly regulate your temperature and sweat so that you can get a better workout, and potentially ward off serious temperature-related conditions like hypothermia. As you workout and your body heats up, shed a layer or two to prevent excessive sweating. Sweating keeps your body cool by drawing heat away from your skin, but you actually want to prevent this in the cold so that your internal temperature stays consistent, and so that you don’t have cold water resting on your body during your entire workout.
You’ll also want to pay close attention to your workout gear and the materials you’re wearing while you sweat. Wear sweat-wicking material to help draw the sweat away from your skin, and avoid cotton as a base layer at all costs. Cotton soaks up water and remains saturated within the material so that your sweaty shirt sticks to your skin, which makes for sub-optimal training conditions, and increases potential for hypothermia and unnecessary drops in body temp.
Drinking lots of water while exercising in the cold is just as important as in the warmth. Dehydration is still a concern in colder weather, as you will still be sweating, breathing heavily, and exercising intensely just the same.
While drinking water in the warm weather helps regulate body temperature by cooling you off, the same principal is true in the cold, and in general, will help prevent dehydration due to intense exercise.
Drinking before your workout will be a great way to pre-hydrate before vigorous exercise, but it’s also important to drink water throughout the duration of your workout. If you’re doing cardiovascular work, you might not be able to drink lots without cramping, so take small sips throughout so that you’re consuming enough water while avoiding any discomfort.
Protect Exposed Skin
With snow and ice all around, remember that you are just as prone to sunburn in the winter as you are in the summer, so lather up and protect exposed skin before long bouts of outdoor winter exercise. White snow on the ground will reflect the sun’s light, which can sneak up on you if you’re outside for a prolonged period.
And don’t forget to cover your head, ears, and hands. Not only will covering these areas help prevent sun and windburn, but your extremities will lose warmth quickly, making frostbite a real concern for long workouts in the wind and cold.