Don't Take the Winter Off
Just because the temperature drops outside, that is not an excuse to miss an outdoor workout. Cold weather workouts are healthy for your body and mind. So get off the couch and throw that blanket aside and get outdoors running , walking, biking, hiking or whatever it is you like to do.
What are the benefits to cold weather workouts?
Burn more calories. When working out in the cold, your body will work harder to regulate its core temperature as well as muscle work, so you will burn a few more calories. For example, a one mile walk in winter will burn a few more calories than a one mile walk in the summer.
Increase endurance. When you exercise in cold weather, your muscles produce heat and that heat dissipates through sweat and respiration. In cold weather, you are less likely to overheat and therefore improve your stamina.
Strengthen your immune system. Exercising outside will keep you away from people who are harboring the latest winter colds & flu as well as building your immune system.
Vitamin D. Being in the fresh air not only will boost your mood, you'll get your daily dose of Vitamin D; especially when the amount of daylight is shortened. You need about 30 minutes of sunlight to get enough Vitamin D. A brisk walk or jog through the park or eating lunch outside on a cold day should be enough.
Muscle injuries and strains are more likely in cold weather, so it is important to warm up prior to exercising. Some warm up exercises can include arm circles, arm swings, lunges, and marching in place with high knees. These dynamic exercises loosen your joints, get the blood flowing and warm up the muscles and tissues in your body. Everyone warms up at their own pace; some people may do 20-30 of each exercise and some people may need more or less than that number. Make sure you are healthy before attempting any exercises.
STAYING SAFE IN COLD WEATHER
Cold weather exercise is safe for most people. If you have specific health issues such as asthma, heart problems or Raynaud's disease, check with your doctor first.
It is also important to dress for the cold weather. Dressing in layers allows you to shed some clothing when you warm up and then put it back on when you get chilly. Your first layer of clothing, closest to your skin, should be made of a material that wicks away sweat from the body and brings it to the outer layers. Wool or fleece is a good choice for your second layer for insulation. The third layer should be wind and rain-repellent and only worn if it is snowing, raining or very windy. Protect your head, hands, feet and ears by wearing a hat, thermal socks and gloves.
Before heading out, check the forecast. Key factors to consider when heading outside to workout are temperature, wind and moisture, along with the length of time that you'll be outside. Wind chill extremes can make exercising outdoors unsafe even with warm clothing. Of course everyone's fitness level and tolerance to cold weather is different and should also be accounted for before heading outside to exercise.
Some warning signs to get out of the cold are frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite occurs less than 5% of the time when temperatures are above 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Signs of frostbite include numbness or a stinging sensation and can occur on exposed skin; usually nose, cheeks, and fingers. Signs of hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature, include intense shivering, slurred speech, loss of coordination, and fatigue. Seek medical help immediately if experiencing either frostbite or hypothermia.
Grab your gear and head on outside regardless of the temperatur. A little preparation will keep your fitness program on track and keep you motivated.