It can be tough to head outside on rainy or snowy days. But not with these 9 winter exercise tips to stay warm and injury-free when working out in cold weather.
1. Dress ‘Dry,’ Not Just ‘Warm’
The quickest way to lose body heat is to get wet. Because water is an efficient heat conductor — moving heat away from the area of highest concentration (your body) to the lowest (cold air outside) — getting wet will quickly leave you chilled and miserable.
“Wet fabric next to your skin will zap your body heat and give you an unwanted chill,” says Shelley Barrett, owner of Fearless Wanaka."That means, skip active wear made from cotton, which soaks up sweat and rain and holds in moisture".
Fearless stocks the latest technology in luxury activewear for all sorts of workouts and temperatures.
2. Layer Up
Don’t stop at sweat-wicking clothes. You also need layers to trap warm air next to your body and keep out the elements (like rain, snow, and wind).
First, put on a thin base layer made of synthetic fabrics (discussed above) to help pull sweat away from your skin. If it’s really cold outside, wear a middle layer, like the Puma Active Hoodie for extra warmth. Then, add an outer layer (or shell) to protect you from wind, snow, and rain.
Depending on the weather, your outer shell can be a lightweight nylon windbreaker or vest, or a heavyweight, waterproof jacket.
3. Protect Your Extremities
To keep your extremities warm, wear a hat or headband and gloves or mittens if it's really cold. Thick socks also help. All these add-ons should be wool or synthetic, rather than cotton, to help keep sweat off your skin.
4. Protect Your Skin
Winter air isn’t just cold, it’s dry. To keep your skin from drying out, drink plenty of water and rub on moisturising cream or lotion.
Even if it’s cloudy, UV rays can reach and damage the skin. What’s more, it’s important to realise that snow reflects up to 80 percent of UV rays, so when there’s snow out you are hit by many of the same rays twice. If you’re skiing or snowboarding in the mountains, your risk of sunburn is even higher.
Before heading out (no matter the elevation), apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to your face and any other skin that will be exposed and apply SPF lip balm before, during, and after your workout. The Salt & Stone collection of organic SPF creams and lip balms is highly recommended.
And don’t forget to protect your eyes with UV-blocking sunglasses like the Blenders range at Fearless.
5. Do a Warm-Up First
There’s no getting around the need for a good warm-up, no matter what the mercury reads. Dynamic warm-ups increase blood flow and temperature in the muscles to help decrease the risk of injuries.
When exercising in colder temperatures, you’re at increased risk for sprains and strains. Think of it as like stretching a cold rubber band. It easily snaps, right? Warm it up, though, and it becomes more pliable and less likely to fray.
The best dynamic warm-up for you depends on what type of workout you’re doing. But for all warm-ups, be sure they include low-intensity movements that mimic the exercise you’re about to perform. If you're a runner, for instance, a dynamic warm-up might include bodyweight lunges and squats, arm swings, and core activation work.
And be sure not to confuse warming up with static, bend-and-hold stretching. Those stretches are best saved until the end of your workout.
6. Breathe Right
If you’ve gotten your heart rate up when the temperatures start to drop, you know it feels different from when you’re in warmer temperatures. It can actually hurt to breathe because of how your body reacts to cold, dry air.
In cold weather, airway passages tend to narrow, which makes inhalation more difficult.
Breathing in through your nose can help warm and humidify air, but that’s not always feasible when you’re exerting yourself and breathing heavily. Wrapping a bandanna or scarf around your mouth (or another thin fabric layer) can help trap water vapour in when you breathe out to keep air more moist as you continue to breathe.
7. Remove Layers as You Heat Up
“The biggest mistake in dressing for cold weather exercise is putting on too many layers and not peeling them off in time,” Barrett says. After all, exercising will considerably warm you, and you don’t want to get sweaty when you’re in freezing temps — leaving you at risk of everything from dehydration to frostbite.
8. Drink Up
Some people don’t feel as thirsty during cold-weather workouts as they do during warmer-weather workouts but you’re still losing fluids through sweat and breathing in lower temperatures. And you still need to replace those fluids by drinking water.
9. Cool Down and Change Out of Damp Gear
Once you stop moving, you’ll get chilled fast. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to cool down. Whatever the weather, a cool-down is important after sustained exercise. It helps your body eliminate exercise by-products and reduce potential soreness.
Change into something cosy and be proud of yourself for staying active in the winter months when many people prefer to blob in front of the tv. You did it!