Winter Exercise: How to Stay Warm Out There!

*By: Christi Shingara*

Photo: Madara Parma

Just because the colder temps have set in, doesn’t mean you still can’t exercise outdoors! I have always loved to run outside and never enjoyed running on a treadmill. It’s much more stimulating to breathe in fresh air and be around nature while working out. It puts me in a great mood and makes exercising much more enjoyable. During most of the year, I get to run outside a lot, but as the colder months approach, I know it’s only a matter of time before my running excursions become limited. However, this doesn’t mean I still can’t get some good runs in before the snow and ice hit. Below are a few tips to staying warm and fit this season!

Dress in Layers

No matter what kind of outdoor exercise you do, it is important to dress in layers. If you dress too warmly, your body will heat up and perspire more, causing you to get a chill. Dressing in layers prevents this because as you start to sweat, you can remove the layers and then put them back on as needed.

Know your Fabrics

Polypropylene, silk, polyester, Thermax, Thinsulate, and wool are all good choices for cold weather fabrics. These types of material help with drawing moisture away from your body, keeping you warm and dry. Always avoid cotton, which stays wet against your body. The layers that were discussed above should be worn with the first layer being a synthetic material, such as polypropylene. Second layer should be fleece or wool for insulating purposes. The outer layer should be a waterproof material. Some brands that produce great cold weather clothing is Patagonia, Lululemon, Columbia and Athleta. Also, make sure your head, hands and feet are protected. Extremities are most susceptible to frost bite. Wind-blocking material is best for protecting these areas.

Check the Weather Report

Temperature, wind and moisture, along with the duration of time that you’ll be outdoors, are all important factors when planning your workout. Wind chill can be dangerous, and if you aren’t careful, could give you frost bite even with warm clothing. Also, if it is raining or snowing, that can also cause you to become wet, which makes you more vulnerable to the cold. Finally, breathing extremely cold and dry air is hard on your lungs and can make breathing difficult. If you do miss a day of exercising outside, make sure to have an indoor workout lined up just in case!

Have an Alternative Location

I usually run on a rail trail lined with trees, which helps protect me a bit from wind chill. If you have a running spot near water or an open field, it will always be much colder. Having an alternative location to exercise that shields you from the harmful elements might be the difference between getting in a great workout, or not being able to do it at all!

Have any additional tips for exercising outside? Let us know in the comments below!

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