Tips for Cold Weather Activity
Jan 22, 2021
When temperatures get colder, being active outdoors may not be at the top of our “to do” list, right? It’s way more tempting to just pull on the fuzzy pants and slippers and curl up on the couch under a blanket.
However, there are actually some benefits to a winter workout. Colder temperatures can actually boost your endurance because your heart isn’t working as hard and you sweat less than you would in heat and humidity. Another important benefit of being outside during winter months is getting sunlight exposure (vitamin D!), which can help improve your mood.
One thing to note…it’s important to check with your healthcare provider before starting any type of new activity program to review precautions you may need to take if you have other health conditions.
- Warm-Up. As with any type of activity plan, the first step is to get ready by warming up. When it comes to outdoor activity, cold muscles can be at greater risk for injuries. So, be sure to warm up with some dynamic stretches that get the blood flowing and your body moving. For example, build a warm-up routine with moves like arm circles, high-step marching in place and lunges.
- Layer Up. Weather conditions can change, so layers are key. Start with a thin layer that is moisture-wicking to draw sweat away from the body (No cotton. Pick a synthetic material). Next, add a warmer layer for insulation – something like fleece or wool. Your top layer should be breathable, but also waterproof.
- Don’t Forget the Extremities. Your head, hands and feet are particularly vulnerable to the cold, so give them extra protection. Layer a thin pair of gloves made of moisture-wicking material under another pair that are lined with wool or fleece. Wear heavy socks that protect your feet but still allow you to move. Cover your head with a warm cap, and don’t forget sunglasses to protect your eyes.
- Sunscreen. Yep. Sunscreen in winter. If you have exposed skin, it’s at risk – even more so when the sunlight is reflecting off snow. Choose products that block both UVA and UVB rays, 30 SFP or greater, and add lip balm with sunscreen.
Ready to Move
There are many ways to be active outdoors. You can walk, run, hike, bike, ski, snowshoe, ice skate or even have a family snowball fight. Once you are out and moving remember:
- Watch the Weather Conditions. If you are walking or running, make sure you are on a safe surface and you have shoes with good traction to prevent slips and falls.
- Stay Hydrated. Since it’s not hot and humid, you may not feel thirsty, and this means you could be more likely to get dehydrated. Drink water before, during and after your activity. And remember that sugary and caffeinated drinks can dehydrate you, so stick with water.
- Know the Signs of Hypothermia. It’s important to know your limits if you’ll be outdoors. If you’re not out with an exercise buddy, make sure someone knows when you are going out doors and where you will be. Carry a charged cellphone. Hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature, is a medical emergency, so get help right away if you have symptoms such as intense shivering, slurred speech, extreme fatigue, mental confusion or loss of coordination.
With a little extra preparation, you can enjoy being active out in the winter wonderland!