But it’s Cold!!!
Maintaining or beginning a stable exercise plan can be hard during the winter months. Unfortunately, with the increased darkness and cold weather our bodies send signals to hold onto that fat. A study of a group of 12 women and six men discovered that their production of a chemical that promotes fat storage (ATLPL) almost doubled during the winter months. Yikes!
But it’s Worth It-
You can actually burn more calories than in the warmer months with outdoor exercise in the winter chill. Outdoor exercise can boost your energy, decrease tension, frustration, and depression. Research has found that because your body has to work harder in the cold your endorphin production is boosted, leading to a happier state of mind. Also, exposure to natural light is a known depression fighter, especially for those who experience seasonal affective disorder.
But it’s Dangerous!!!
The most common injuries during winter exercise are slips and falls, hypothermia, and heart attacks from doing too much too fast. Practice these recommended safety tips to avoid injuries during outdoor exercise.
4 Safety Tips-
Acclimate your body
Your body needs to get used to the cold. It may take longer for your body to reach your typical speed, so leave more time to warm up. It is recommended to warm up and cool down inside so as not to shock your body. Take it slow. Shorten your intensity and duration that you are used to, and let your body get used to running in the cold. After a few weeks of consistent outdoor workouts your body will adapt and you will be at peak performance again. Promise!
Map out a safe route away from cars, plows, and hills. Most falls happen on downhills and on patches of ice. It is recommended to avoid early morning or late evening when light snow has frozen into hard-packed ice. Check the temperature and the forecast. Health risks increase when the combined temperature and wind chill falls below -20°F. Try to exercise with others or let someone know where and when you will be out.
Dress for Success
With the right gear, it’s almost never too cold to work out. One of the most common dangers of exercising outdoors in the winter is frostbite. Here are some great recommendations for how to dress for safety and comfort.
- Dress in three or more layers:Use a lightweight synthetic material to wick moisture away from your skin. Avoid heavy cotton materials as these absorb sweat, trapping wetness close to your body, which can increase your risk of hypothermia.
- Add another layer or two of wool or fleece for insulating warmth.
- Top it off with a lightweight, water-repellant and wind-resistant material.
- Always wear a hat, as you lose about 50 percent of your body heat from your uncovered head.
- Wear gloves to protect your fingers from frostbite. Layering thin gloves with heavier mittens is a good idea so you can remove a layer if needed without exposing your bare skin to the frigid air.
- Cover your face with mask or scarf when the temperature is below freezing.
- Wear sturdy footwear with good traction.
- Wear light and/or reflective clothing as it gets darker sooner during the winter months. You want to make sure drivers can see you.
Most people give little thought to staying hydrated while exercising outdoors during the winter. You don’t see your sweat but your body is definitely still expelling it. A helpful tip is to keep your water bottle under your layers of clothing to help keep it from freezing.
But it’s Boring!
The gym can be expensive and mundane for some. Others may need activities other than walking or running to keep their interest in exercising through the winter months. Let’s face it we all really just want to surround ourselves with blankets. Here are some suggestions for some fun outdoor exercise!
Make it Fun-
- Sledding. Tobaggoning (old fashioned word for sledding) is an amazing way to burn calories. Make it a family affair and pull those kids up that hill over and over, it’s good for you! Or you can have your dog do it.
- Skiing, ice-skating, snowboarding. The amount of muscles and energy you use to stay balanced and focus with these activities is a great way to burn calories and have fun at the same time. Yes, that is me in the picture above…just kidding!
- Snow-shoeing. Using snowshoes can allow you to hike or walk somewhere more interesting than a sidewalk. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and quietness that makes this season so majestic.
Do you have any suggestions on great outdoor gear or exercise ideas? We would love to hear them!