Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, improve your mood and your energy. Exercising outside provides variety and helps make your exercise more enjoyable, but winter's cold can make this activity more difficult. Here are some workout tips to protect yourself and make your winter workouts safer and better.
Protect Your Body With Proper Clothing
Before you step outside to begin your workout, make sure you have the right clothing to protect your body from the elements. As you workout, your body produces sweat and will become overly warm with too much clothing on, causing you to become overheated. For this reason, it is important to dress in layers for your outside workout, allowing you to remove outer layers as you warm up and replace them as you get chilled.
It is recommended to wear several layers of clothing for your outside workout, each one placed to help protect your skin from frostbite and your core temperature from going too low. The first layer should be a long-sleeved performance shirt made of breathable synthetic material, which will pull sweat away from your skin. This type of breathable synthetic performance fabric is designed to wick moisture away and not hold it against your skin, which would lower your body temperature.
Over the long-sleeved performance shirt, wear a warm layer of fleece or wool to add insulation over the sweat-wicking fabric. Then, over the insulation layer, wear a breathable and lightweight covering that is wind and water resistant. This top layer holds the heat and air within the insulation layer to better hold in your body heat.
Also be sure to wear a hat to cover your head and ears, as a great deal of your body heat is lost through your head. And if the temperature and wind chill are both low, you may want to wear a face mask to protect your face from frostbite.
Prevent Muscle Injury
Before you begin your workout outside in the cold, it is important and essential to warm up your muscles before working them out. Warming up your muscles gets the blood flowing from mainly around your internal organs and out to your extremities and helps your muscles become flexible to resist tearing and injury. If you begin your workout outside in the cold without warming them up, they will remain stiff and you are more likely to tear a muscle.
When the outside temperature is lower than normal, this makes it even more difficult for your muscles to become flexible and an injury is more likely without the right amount of warming-up. Get your arms, legs, and core moving to circulate your blood to all your muscles before running, or completing any strenuous activities. Make sure your feet are fully warmed up, as they help you keep your balance, especially when running. This helps you prevent a fall and to keep your balance during your workout.
Watch for Cold Weather Health Dangers
While you are exercising outside during the winter cold, you should be aware of the dangers and the signs of frost bite and hypothermia. It is a good idea to watch the temperature and the wind speed while you exercise, which can make the temperature feel lower than it is and cause frostbite to your skin quicker.
For example, if the temperature outside is 0 degrees F, but the wind is blowing at 15 mph, this creates a wind chill temperature of -19 degrees F. Even though you may be wearing a hat and gloves, your face will be exposed to the cold temperature and the wind, causing frostbite much sooner than if there was no wind. In this environment, you can get frostbite on your exposed skin in 30 minutes.
Watch for signs of hypothermia, especially after you have removed any of your outer layers of clothing after you have begun to sweat. For example, removing your outer wind and water resistant layer and the insulative layer of wool or fleece to wear just your performance long-sleeved shirt, your body will cool quickly. If this causes your body temperature to fall below 95 degrees F, you will become hypothermic. Watch for signs, which can cause you to become uncoordinated, fatigued, have slurred speech, and uncontrollable shivering. Immediately replace your outer layers and seek emergency medical help.