Making New Year’s resolutions to exercise in the dead of winter doesn’t mean workouts need to stay indoors. With the right preparation, winter workouts can be a great way to burn extra calories and get in shape before the spring thaw.
Check weather conditions
Wind chill, the combination of low temperatures and wind, can make weather conditions too extreme for outdoor activities. If moisture is in the forecast, try to work out when temperatures are at their peak to avoid slick conditions.
Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia
Typically, frostbite occurs on exposed skin (cheeks, nose, ears), but can also happen to covered hands and feet. Early signs include numbness, loss of feeling or a stinging sensation. Get out of the cold if frostbite is suspected and slowly begin to warm the affected areas. Avoid rubbing the areas as it could damage the skin.
Hypothermia occurs when the body’s core temperature drops abnormally low. Exposure to cold temperatures causes the body to lose heat, often faster than it can replace it. Signs include intense shivering, slurred speech, fatigue and loss of coordination.
Remember to layer
During exercise, the body creates heat. The evaporation of sweat creates a cooling effect and in the winter can leave you feeling chilled. Adding and removing layers during workouts helps maintain a healthy balance of hot and cool.
For a first layer, use a thin synthetic material like polypropylene to help draw sweat away from the body. Avoid using cotton as it can stay wet next to the skin.
Add a middle layer of fleece or wool for insulation and a breathable, waterproof outer layer to help protect against the elements.
When exposed to cold, the body tends to concentrate its heat on the core, making the head, hands and feet susceptible to frostbite. To protect your head, consider wearing a scarf or ski mask to protect your face and a hat or headband to cover your ears and head.
Layer gloves the same way you do your body, with a sweat-wicking material first and then a thicker fleece or wool glove on the outside. Consider buying shoes a half-size larger to compensate for thicker, thermal socks or for when you double socks.
Chose the right gear
Use sunscreen, even on cold and cloudy days. Tinted glasses come in handy when walking while snow is on the ground to help protect against glare. Hiking boots are ideal footwear, protecting ankles and providing good tread to help prevent falls. Also, choose reflective, light-colored clothing to help make you visible to drivers.