How to Stay Safe (and Warm) When Exercising in the Winter
The winter can push back your exercise plans. Whether it’s snowing, raining or just plain freezing, not many people want to head outside for physical activity. Just like how you would prepare for emergencies during the winter, it’s important to prepare for exercising in the winter. Being outside in all seasons is good for your mental and physical well-being. It’s also important to stick with some sort of exercise routine during the winter to avoid illness. While common sense should be used — you don’t want to go outside in a hailstorm or -20 degree Fahrenheit day — there are ways to stay safe and warm for most of the winter.
Think about staying dry rather than just warm
While the cold can sap your body warmth quickly, getting wet will make things even worse. Water moves heat away from your body to the outside air. It’s why we start to sweat when our bodies run to hot. However, this doesn’t help in the winter.
The fabric you wear should be synthetic fibers, such as nylon or polyester, which wicks away moisture, rather than cotton, which holds in moisture.
Layer up (properly)
While you will generate heat during your workout, it’s still important to properly layer up. Remember, you can always remove layers as needed, but you can’t add them once your workout gets started. Start with a thin base layer made of synthetic fibers. Then add a middle layer for extra warmth, possibly a workout hoodie. Finally, if it’s snowing, windy or raining, add an outer layer like a running vest or nylon windbreaker.
Hypothermia and frostbite are real dangers. Keep all areas of your body covered. Don’t forget your long socks, gloves and, potentially, a running mask, which will help keep your face warm.
Make sure you have traction
The winter can be perilous, with snow, rain or ice interfering with your workout. Try to avoid back roads or trails that may not be as well maintained and may have hidden obstacles under the snow. Work out on plowed or salted areas. If you have no other option besides running on a dangerous surface, consider attaching snow or ice spikes to your shoes. Just don’t wear them on pavement. They are meant to dig into ice, not concrete.
To start, head into the wind
If you’re running, cycling, etc., it may seem counterproductive to head into the wind at the beginning of your workout. However, you are at your coldest at the start. This means that the wind won’t be a big factor on your body temperature. The end of your workout is when you will be your sweatiest and the most at-risk for losing body heat. Now you can run with the wind behind you and you won’t be fighting the wind chill. Don’t forget your wind-breaking layer!
Midwest Express Clinic wants you to stay safe while exercising in the winter. Many people skip the outdoor workouts in the colder months, opting for an indoor workout or simply hibernating through the winter. By following these tips, you can stick with your routine and stay safe and warm while doing it.
Before starting any exercise routine, it’s important to talk to a provider. Check in online at your closest Midwest Express Clinic location to speak with a provider today.