Some people are experts at finding excuses to not work out and keep their not-so-healthy lifestyle. You’ll hear them saying it’s too hot to exercise in the Summer, that you’ll get allergies if you work out in Spring and that’s too cold to stay active in the cold weather of Autumn and Winter. First things first, we’re not recommending you to exercise outside if you have any health problems that may occur due to cold weather but we’re trying to convince lazy individuals to exercise more by providing some safety and well-being tips for cold weather fitness or exercising in other seasons as well.
Due to the fact that Winter is just around the corner and the cold weather is already here, in this article we’re going to focus on your safety and well-being while exercising in these colder months.
When is it too cold for exercise?
Exercise physiologist and avid skier and skater Michael Bracko, a fellow with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), told weather.com that no weather should be too cold for exercise but there are two main factors to take into consideration.
It’s simple – if you know you’re predisposed to complications due to staying outside in cold weather, don’t do it. Cold weather may lead to some health risks such as getting a cold or a sore throat, having joint pain, dry skin and even triggering asthma. Even if you don’t suffer from any of these, you should pay attention when exercising in cold weather due to the risk of frostbite that can settle in less than 40 minutes.
We wrote several articles on this and we’re saying it again so everyone can understand it. When exercising outside in cold weather, it’s really important to dress up in layers. There are some things to think about like choosing the right materials for each layer and adding the right accessories to your outfit. For example you can choose to wear a fitness belt under your first layer so you can safely store your valuables while not making your jacket pockets heavier than they should.
Safety & Well-Being Tips For Cold Weather Fitness
Some researchers have pointed out that cold weather fitness could be more beneficial than exercising in warm weather. There are two main factors behind this assumption. First, our bodies produce endorphin as a reward for exercising but cold weather fitness may boost the the levels of endorphin because our bodies need to work more, and second – we tend to work out better in cold weather. The fact that the weather is really cold makes us finish our regular runs or workouts faster so we tend to exercise more in shorter periods of time.
Here are some safety and well-being tips for cold weather fitness:
Know your route before you head out.
You shouldn’t go out and run on a route you don’t know anything about. The same goes for any other cold weather fitness activity like hiking or snowboarding. You will want to avoid any construction sites and bad pavement zones because with all the rain or snow, you won’t be able to spot any dangers. If you like to exercise in the morning or in evening, choose well-lit routes since there is less daylight and more darkness. The best thing you can do is to find a loop in your neighborhood and stick to it because it’s closer to home.
Another thing you can do when choosing your route is to look for a running track near buildings so you’ll be protected from cold winds and other extreme weather.
Before heading outside take a few minutes to do some indoor moves to warm up. When you decide to go out and start your run, take 30-second breaks so your body can adjust to the new weather conditions.
Adjust to the weather conditions.
If you normally go out for 4-mile runs, in cold weather start with only 2 miles of running. This way, you’ll start small but raise the level of exercise so you won’t be forced to stop and catch your breath. You probably don’t think about this but stopping frequently while exercising in cold weather can raise the risk of hypothermia. Starting out slow helps your body (especially your airways) adjust to the colder weather.
Even if you don’t see yourself sweating in colder weather, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay hydrated. You may not see this but a lot of sweat is absorbed by your clothing layers. Staying hydrated should be a priority in all seasons, not just in Autumn or Winter.
Learn about frostbite and hypothermia.
When exercising in extreme cold weather conditions, you’re predisposed to some health risk such as frostbite and hypothermia. Before heading outside it’s better to do your research and discover the symptoms before it’s too late. Frostbite affects the exposed parts of your body like your cheeks, nose and ears. Early symptoms include numbness and a stinging sensation. If this is the case get out of the cold and slowly warm up your affected areas but don’t rub that area since it may damage your skin.
Hypothermia is represented by an abnormally low temperature for your body. When exposed to cold weather, you tend to lose heat faster than it’s produced. Symptoms include shivering, fatigue and loss of coordination. If this is the case, you should seek immediate medical help.
Last and not least on our safety and well-being tips for cold weather exercise is to dress in layers but we’ve already covered this topic on several occasions on our fitness blog.