Key Tips to Exercise in the Cold!
Cold weather can sometimes deter us from exercising outdoor. And yet, by taking a few simple precautions, many outdoor activities can be enjoyed. Here are five tips to help you brave the cold weather and improve your physical condition.
1. Multiple layers!
The best thing to do is to wear a windbreaker over a warm shirt or coat. As your body temperature rises, you’ll be able to take off some clothes to avoid feeling too hot. If you are doing high intensity training, your own metabolic heat production should be enough to keep you warm. Make sure to choose the right clothes, but more importantly, the right type of fabric, as multiple layers only will not be enough. Go to outdoor equipment stores and seek information from experts. The objective is to retain heat and evacuate excess humidity. Also, remember to wear a warm hat!
2. Dynamic warm-up, preferably indoors
The purpose of warming up is to increase body temperature to prepare it for the work. Dynamic movements should therefore activate large muscle groups and slowly increase the range of motion to increase blow flow and make it easier to use the muscles in a very cold environment. Static stretching should only be done post-workout! Warm-ups should leave you a little out of breath. Make sure to reach the intensity you will want to maintain during your outdoor workout; for example by doing sprints or raising your knees as high as possible in the living room before heading out.
3. Proper pre- and post-nutrition
You need to have energy in order to burn it! When you train in a cold environment, the muscles use more energy. Therefore, reserves are depleted at a faster rate and fatigue is quick to set in. Eat a small snack one hour before and after (with protein and carbs). During longer workouts, eat carbs.
4. Stay hydrated
You may feel less thirsty in cold weather, but your body still needs to be hydrated! To make things easier for your throat, carry a bottle of lukewarm water and take frequent sips during your workout.
5. Keep your hands and feet warm
The body tends to increase blood flow to the body parts that are doing the work, and to evacuate heat through the head. Make sure to wear a good pair of gloves or mitts as well as thick, high-quality socks. Listen to your body: if you show signs of freezing or numbness, go get warm inside. Exposed skin can also freeze easily, so cover your face as much as possible to prevent frostbite.
Because breathing in very cold air may irritate your throat and even trigger an asthmatic response, the best approach is to start slowly with short activities at a low intensity.
Enjoy the outdoors!
Karine Larose, M.Sc.