Okay, so we may be writing this from sunny southern California where we’re currently experiencing a pretty major heat wave (we’re so going to the beach tomorrow!), BUT that doesn’t mean we’re not thinking about the rest of the country –some of which is experiencing bitingly cold temps. We’re sorry. Truly. And we also have some tips about whether or not it’s safe to stick with your winter workout program in extreme cold—especially if your exercise plans take you outside.
It goes without saying that exercise is important year round, even if hunkering down on the couch is much more desirable right now. And with all the snow and cold, you might be considering an outdoor winter sport like hitting the slopes or cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Not bad choices!
Here’s what you need to know about maximizing your winter workout program and staying safe.
- Dress the part: Layers are always important in winter workouts, but make sure they’re the right layers. Some fabrics (believe it or not, cotton) don’t breathe very well and can lead you to getting sweaty and uncomfortable. Sweating too much too quickly is a recipe for getting colder faster, and leaving yourself vulnerable to catching a bug. Wear moisture-wicking layers and top them off with windproof jackets, hats, etc, so that you stay warm and dry.
- Pay attention to your breath: Cold weather can actually spur on short breathing, especially if you’re already at risk for asthma. If you’re an asthma sufferer, or prone to exercise induced asthma, warm up inside first before heading outside. And you may need to invest in an outdoor face cover like a balaclava to help warm up your breath while outside.
- Remember the sunscreen! While any shimmer of warm sun may feel like a welcome reprieve from your outdoor activities, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun, especially if it’s also windy. The wind is going to chafe and irritate your skin as it is, so you don’t want sunburn on top of that.
- Good gloves, socks, and shoes: Cold weather means more of our energy goes to warming our core, which pulls it away from our far-away toes and fingers. If they feel like they’re getting cold really fast, it’s because they are. So invest in high-quality warming socks, shoes, and gloves, to make sure you’re keeping your fingers and toes toasty.
- Cover your head: We can lose about 50 percent of our body heat through our heads. And when we’re working out (even outside), hats or headbands can come off quickly as our body heat starts to crank. It’s okay to take it off for a little bit, but make an effort to keep your head covered while outside. The rest of your body will thank you.
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