Working out during the winter has many benefits. A drop in temperature does not mean that you should keep your workouts strictly indoors.
Exercising outdoors during winter has many advantages that you may not get during summer. For instance, your endurance may improve during the cold weather because you sweat less, use less energy, and your heart does not have to do so much work, thereby improving your exercise efficiency. Studies have revealed that exercising in winter can help you convert white fat (belly and thigh fat) into brown fat.
Winter workouts help to fight depression associated with a lack of sunlight that people experience in winter. Working out outdoors will allow you to enjoy some sunlight, which you may not get from working out indoors.
If you plan to take your workout outdoors this winter, here are five tips that you will find helpful.
Your muscles are at a greater risk of injuries and strain during winter, so ensure that you warm-up before the workout. You want to avoid static stretches and do more dynamic stretches that involve moving different parts of your body, improving blood flow, and loosening your joints.
Here are perfect examples of pre-winter workout warm-ups:
Arm circles – stretch your arms out to the sides at shoulder height with your palms facing the ground. Make circular motions, starting with small circles, then make them larger until you complete 20 circles. Do the reverse and complete another 20 circles.
Swing your arms – With your feet wide apart, swing your arms from right to left and vice versa. Complete 10 repetitions with 5 swings towards each side.
High steps – While standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, raise your right or left knee toward your chest, hold for 3 seconds, then return to your starting position. Repeat the movement with your left knee, and continue to switch knees, completing 10 reps - 5 for each knee. You can do multiple sets of this warm-up exercise.
The weather can get extreme in the winter, with temperatures dropping lower in a matter of minutes of stepping outside and working out. You want to ensure you are prepared for the cold to reduce your risk of injuries and hypothermia. Start with a thin layer made from a synthetic material designed for cold weather. This thin layer will help to remove sweat from your body. Add another layer such as a fleece, to trap your body heat. Then add a top layer to protect you from snow, rain, or wind. Depending on how cold it is outside, the outer layer can be anything from a nylon windbreaker to a heavyweight waterproof jacket.
Cover your head, hand, and feet
In cold weather, your body concentrates blood flow towards your core to keep you warm, thereby leaving your fingers, toes, and head vulnerable to extreme weather. Cover your hands with gloves lined with fleece, or you can first wear a thin layer of glove liners under heavier gloves. For your feet and toes, wear warm socks. Lastly, cover your head with a warm wool cap and you can also wear dark glasses to protect your eyes from wind and glare.
It is crucial to wear shoes designed to keep the heat, unlike running shoes that remove heat from your body.
Protect your skin
The winter is both cold and dry, and your skin needs protection from drying out. By drinking plenty of water and rubbing a lot of body lotion, your skin will remain moisturized during a workout outdoors. A running mask is also a great choice to protect your face from the biting wind. Also, you can apply a thin layer of Vaseline to your ears and the tip of your nose.
Ensure proper traction and surface
Wear shoes with good traction, especially those designed for the winter season. Since the floor is wet and there is less friction, you are prone to slips or falls. Before you embark on your outdoor winter workout, ensure that your workout route or surface is safe and dry. If you plan to run on snowy surfaces, attach snow spikes to your shoes to improve traction.