December 21, 2016
Cold Weather Workout Checklist
Just because the weather gets chilly, doesn’t mean you have to forgo exercising outside! With the right gear and the right plan, even a cold day in Boston won’t keep you locked inside. Check out our checklist below, and get ready to enjoy your next workout in the great (somewhat cold) outdoors.
1. Dress in the Right layers
Layers are your best friend this time of year. They will start you off warm and keep you from getting chilled or overheated. Choose materials that will ‘wick’ sweat away but will not restrict movement. Wool is great for socks and will keep you warm and dry. Polyester and other synthetic blends are great for areas where you need freedom of movement, like tights. Avoid cotton however. It does not breathe well and will stay wet.
2. Protect yourself from the Sun
It may not be a bright summer day, but snow does a great job of amplifying the winter sunshine. So, don’t forget your sunglasses and even without snow glare, always apply sunscreen. You don’t have to be beach-side to burn! Don’t forget that by the end of your workout, you may shed outer layers of clothing and end up with unprotected skin exposed.
3. Stay Hydrated
You probably know this one from warmer-weather workouts. Don’t let the chilly temps trick you into drinking too little now though. Winter air is dry and a good workout will be pushing much of your body’s water out as sweat. You may even feel less thirsty than usual, due to the cold. A good trick is to set your phone alarm to 15-30 minute reminders to drink. If you still don’t want to drink, try snacking on some water-heavy fruit instead, like pineapple, eggplant, or grapefruit.
How will you know if you are dehydrated? Not to be too indelicate, but check your urine. Clear, light yellow is good, while dark yellow is a sign you need to drink more. Don’t go overboard in the other direction either. Water intoxication is a serious condition, causing low-sodium.
4. Plan a Safe Route Ahead of Time
In the winter months, it is more important than usual to have any workout routes or spots mapped out. Plan a few checkpoints along the way, especially for longer runs, where you can stop and warm up. Coffee shops and the like are great for this. It’s a good idea to check the weather beforehand too. If a storm is on its way, you probably won’t want to plan a run that brings you too far from home (or civilization) at any point. Overall, know your winter routes well. You can afford to get a little lost in warmer months, but the shorter and colder days of winter are not great for trying new ‘shortcuts’ or unexplored terrain.
5. Have Someone Check-in with You
If you plan to work out alone, make sure someone is waiting to hear from you after your workout. Sure, this one may seem like overkill, but with technology, it’s just so easy to do these days. Especially in winter, when small inconveniences can turn into chilly situations (think sprained ankle in a snowy park). It is better to be safe than sorry! Have someone waiting for your text, have them give you a quick call, or even plan to get together for coffee post-workout. Whatever it is, have someone waiting to hear from you. Its great insurance against everything from a simple ankle-sprain mid-route, to the more serious complications of spending unanticipated time outside…in spandex.
6. Know When to Head Inside
It might be tempting to ‘tough it out’ if you start to get cold, but frostbite and hypothermia are threats to take seriously in wintery conditions. Frostbite can first turn your extremities red and chilly, then begin to turn them white. Warning signs will be prickling, numbness, tingling and stinging. Hypothermia begins with a sensation of cold and shivering, but will progress to the “umbles” – stumbles, grumbles, and mumbles.
If you see any of these signs in yourself or others, it’s time to go indoors, right away. Add warm layers of clothing, drink warm fluids, and warm (gently) any areas suffering frostbite. Remember to avoid rubbing to warm the skin.
7. Reap the Benefits
Winter workouts come with some risk, but a little preparation can help you safely reap the rewards! Working out in the cold produces a higher calorie burn and is very energizing. It will also help develop your endurance performance. We spend so much of the colder months trapped inside. That extra time out in the sunshine and fresh air may even help boost your mood, and fight seasonal depression. So what are you waiting for? Let’s go!
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