If you have an exercise routine which takes you outside, you’re not going to pause it for three to four months out of the year. You have to find ways to acclimate to the cold. Of course, this isn’t as simple as it sounds, and it’s far more involved than wearing a heavy coat, hat and gloves and hoping for the best.
Depending on your regimen, you’ll have to take a strategic approach to wintertime fitness. Otherwise, you could place yourself at risk of injury or illness. With this in mind, what should you do to ensure you’re safe while exercising in the cold, and how can you preempt problems associated with winter weather?
We’ll walk you through five tips to keep you warm and comfortable in any conditions. Just follow the suggestions below.
1. Keep the Wind at Your Back
It isn’t always possible, but you should try to complete the second half of your workout with the wind at your back. You’ll have worked up a sweat by the time you enter the last stretch of your routine, and you’ll avoid a chill if you manage to keep the wind behind you. It’s a small, but no less important, detail.
On the subject of wind and inclement weather, you should pay attention to the forecast. If the wind chill is too much or the forecast is calling for freezing rain, you might want to reschedule your session. Alternatively, you could move your workout indoors where you won’t have to consider the cold.
2. Protect Vulnerable Areas
Most of your blood flow concentrates in your core as you exercise, which makes your hands, feet and ears susceptible to the cold. Make sure to protect these vulnerable areas with thin gloves and hats — nothing bulky, but enough to keep you comfortable as you move through your regimen.
If you have a little extra money to spare, you might also want to invest in a pair of shoes that are a size too big. It’ll enable you to wear thicker socks. As for the rest of your outfit, dress in layers, but prepare to take them off and put them back on, depending on how much you exert yourself.
3. Choose Clear Running Paths
When you run on sidewalks with packed snow and ice, you’re risking an accident. The foot and ankle areas are under high stress in the wintertime, which often results in stress fractures. They’re a highly common foot injury during this particular season, and you have to take special care as you jog.
You’ll avoid these winter injuries if you familiarize yourself with safe running paths. When you search for frequented and cleared trails other people traverse regularly, you can trust they’re free of any obstacles or obstructions which could cause issues. Set aside time to do a little research.
4. Know the Signs of Frostbite
Frostbite is most common on your ears, nose and cheeks, but it can also harm your hands and feet. The early signs of frostbite include a loss of feeling, numbness and a stinging sensation. If you notice any of these signs during your workout, move indoors as soon as possible.
Once you’re out of the cold, warm the affected the areas, but don’t rub them, as it could cause additional damage. You should go to the emergency room if the numbness doesn’t go away, but that’s a worst-case scenario. As long as you follow standard advice for winter safety, you’ll prevent any problems.
5. Remember Basic Protocol
It’s all too easy to forget the basics when you’re exercising in an environment you’re not accustomed to. The same rules still apply, and you have to hydrate before, during and after your workout. Drinking water is critical, as it’s more difficult to notice the effects of dehydration in colder weather.
Sunscreen is also essential, and you should choose a product which blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Lip balm with protective properties is also a smart idea. Though you’re working out in low temperatures with snow and ice, it’s best to take the same precautions as you would in spring or summer.
Start Your Regimen With Confidence
The next time you step outside to start your exercise routine, make sure you’re safe and secure. Wear the right clothing, choose clear paths others have used and keep the wind at your back during the second half of your workout. Remember basic protocol and remain aware of the signs of frostbite.
When you follow the five suggestions above, you can feel confident throughout your wintertime regimen.