Exercising in the Cold

by Angela Yorke | December 12th, 2011 | Exercises

Yes, it’s hard to head out when it’s still dark out, and there’s a cup of hot chocolate calling your name. Most of the time, the cold gets the best of your best intentions, but it’s still entirely possible to keep up an exercise routine and not have to regret the extra layer of insulation you packed on when the spring thaw finally comes around.

Keeping warm is important, of course, but exercising can lead to you feeling uncomfortably warm if you’re all bundled up when you go for a brisk walk. If you’ve planned to exercise vigorously and work up a good sweat, then it would be wise to layer your clothing.

The layer closest to your skin should be thin and synthetic. Ideally, it should be one that wicks sweat away, for example, polypropylene. Although cotton is “breathable,” it stays wet, which can get chilly for you. Insulate yourself with something made from wool or fleece next, before finishing the look with a waterproof outer layer that allows your skin to breathe.

A scarf or facemask is advisable too, as inhaling freezing air persistently can dry out the airway, leading to discomfort while breathing. The same goes for protecting your extremities (this includes your ears); mum was right: bundle up! Trail running shoes can come in helpful too, as they provide the traction you would need to stay upright when covering wet/frozen surfaces.

It also helps to get involved with winter-related sports activities so that you won’t feel shortchanged when the weather precludes a long run. Aside from bike riding, other examples include snowshoeing and cross-country skiing; a guy in my neighborhood spends the warmer parts of the year roller-skiing, so actual skiing wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for him.

If it’s so cold that going out would be madness, then it’s time to break out that workout DVD you bought on a whim but left gathering dust on the shelf. While you’re at it, you might as well dust off the shelf too.

Alternatively, you could get the family involved if you’re trapped indoors. No one is “too old” to play “animal relay,” which involves traversing the room and back while performing “animal” actions. You could take turns playing the animal while the others guess what animal it is, or have someone direct the game.

Just because it’s too cold to go out doesn’t mean you should give up on your fitness routine completely; unlike bears, you don’t have to hibernate for the winter!

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.