2022 blog

Tips for Winter Workouts

How to safely keep your workout routine going – even when you’re freezing!

Are the winter blues throwing you off your exercise game? We get it – it’s even harder to leave your cozy comforter when the temperatures outside are dipping.

Here are 9 tips for keeping your workouts safe and effective in cold weather.

1. Start with a dynamic warm-up

Whether you plan on working out indoors or outdoors, it is important to gently warm up the muscles before jumping into an exercise. Some great dynamic warm-ups are:

  • brisk walking (especially at an incline, if using the treadmill)
  • jumping jacks
  • jump rope (with or without an actual rope)
  • arm circles
  • shoulder rolls

Dynamic warm-ups allow the blood to start flowing in the muscles before putting them under the stress of the workout. This is particularly important when the weather is cold to help prevent injury.

2. Dress in layers

Dressing in layers provides many benefits – you can remove layers as you warm up and protect your limbs and skin from cold air and elements. When dressing in layers, opt for layers that alternate between keeping heat in and letting sweat out:

  • the bottom layer should be moisture-wicking, breathable, and allow sweat out and away from the body
    • i.e., a workout specific long sleeve, short sleeve, or tank top that hugs the body and helps keep sweat off
  • the middle layer should be thermal and designed to keep heat in
    • i.e., a sweatshirt or other cotton, heavy-weight outer layer
  • the top layer should be lightweight, water and wind-resistant, and breathable
    • i.e., a windbreaker with mesh vents at the back or underarms

As you workout and begin to sweat, your body goes into a cooling mode, and sweat plays a big role in helping cool you down. When air blows on your sweat-dampened skin, you feel cooler than you would in the same breeze with dry skin. This is why it is important to have layers that will allow your sweat to dissipate and evaporate away from your skin, while still keeping heat in close to your body.

We also love a good workout vest moment. Vests are great cold-weather workout accessories because they keep your core warm effectively, while allowing good range of motion in the arms and shoulders and provide plenty of exit options for heat and sweat coming away from your body.

3. Keep your hands, feet, and head warm

When we start to get cold, one of the ways that our bodies try to protect ourselves is by increasing blood flow to vital organs, which can temporarily lower blood flow in our extremities like hands, fingers, feet, and toes.

To help stay warm, wear good socks that cover the ankle to prevent chilling in gaps between pants and socks. If your hands will be exposed to the cold air, wear gloves, mittens, or hand warmers.

We lose 60-70% of our internal heat from the head and neck region, so it is also important to keep those areas warm and insulated. Wear a jacket or vest with a high collar to protect the neck, and wear a headband, beanie, or jacket hood to keep the head warm.

4. Wear the right shoes

Part of keeping your feet warm means wearing the right shoes for the weather, environment, and activity. Cold weather also tends to mean wet weather; opt for water-resistant shoes to keep the feet dry and warm. Make sure that your shoes also have proper traction on the soles to suit the terrain you will be exercising in.

Never run on icy or frozen surfaces, even in snow shoes!

5. Stay dry

Plan ahead with your outdoor workouts to avoid being outside in heavy rain or snowfall. Always avoid being outdoors in thunderstorms.

Make sure to wear the right clothing to keep yourself dry – like water-resistant shoes and outerwear.

6. Be aware of the signs of hypothermia

Hypothermia describes the condition of the body when internal temperatures drop to dangerous levels. Signs and symptoms of hypothermia setting in include:

  • confusion
  • difficulty speaking
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • amnesia
  • apathy

As hypothermia progresses, symptoms may include lethargy, hallucinations, or loss of consciousness. If you are concerned that you are experiencing hypothermia, remove any wet clothing and dry yourself off and get to a warm area. Always seek medical attention in cases of lost consciousness or persisting symptoms or pain.

7. Stay hydrated

We often relate our feelings of thirst with heat or feeling warm, but hydration and water intake is just as important in cooler weather too! Be sure to replenish fluids lost in sweat during exercise as well by drinking water or sports drinks.

The cold weather and cold air can also be particularly dehydrating. You may feel the effects of this in your throat in particular, so be sure to drink plenty of water. You can also opt for a hot tea for hydration as well as the warmth!

8. Protect your skin

If you are exercising outdoors, always wear sunscreen – even on cloudy or overcast days. Make sure to also wear sun protection like sunglasses if exercising around snow, as the reflection of sunlight on snow can be particularly bright.

Just as cold air is dehydrating to the body’s fluids, it will also impact the skin, lips, and eyes. Use a chapstick or lip balm to keep the skin of the lips hydrated and prevent cracking, and use lotions or moisturizers on the rest of the skin, especially in areas exposed to direct cold air.

9. Change out of sweaty workout clothes immediately

As discussed earlier, sweat is meant to cool the body down with the dampness it provides. However, sweat will not dry as quickly as your body starts to cool down after your exercise is completed, which will leave you with dampened skin and clothes in cold weather.

If you are not able to shower immediately following your workout, be sure to at least remove all sweaty layers to prevent catching hypothermia post-workout.

Make sure to stay active, healthy, happy, and safe in all of your cold weather activities!

Do you have a go-to winter workout? Let us know in the comments below!

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