Did you make a New Year’s resolution to lose those extra holiday pounds and/or tone up those love handles? With the recent cold snap that has been plaguing the country, have you felt less than excited to get out and go for that daily walk, jog or run that is supposed to be a part of your daily routine? Well, don’t let mother nature put a kink in your fitness goals for 2014, just check out how to be prepared for the cold temps and adjust your routine to accommodate that nip in the air.
- Dress Appropriately: Layering your clothes is the key to maintaining your body temperature during workouts in the cold. Avoid wearing heavy cotton fabrics as they tend to soak up any sweat you produce and can actually make you colder in low temperatures. Choose polyester or wool fabrics instead, since they won’t absorb as much perspiration. On those really cold days, it is a good idea to add a hat and gloves to your ensemble. Experts say that approximately 50% of your body heat is lost through your head, so a hat can easily keep your body temperature more stable. Likewise, gloves or mittens are an easy way to keep your extremities warm since your body will naturally pump more blood towards your core to keep those essential internal organs warm and pumping.
- Use the Buddy System: Finding a friend, family member or group to workout with is always helpful. First, working out together is a way to spend more quality time together. Second, others promote social interaction, which in turn will make the workout seem more enjoyable. But most importantly, having others to hold you accountable will serve as to motivation and encouragement when you really just want to stay in bed for an extra 30 minutes or cuddle under a blanket on the couch.
- Hydration Station: Even though it is cold and you don’t think you sweat as much in the winter, your body still requires plenty of water stay hydrated during any workout. There is a common misperception that we don’t sweat as much in cold temperatures, but next time you finish a workout, feel the dampness in your clothes when you peel them off before getting in that steamy shower. That should be proof that summer time isn’t the only time we lose water through our skin.
- Warm Up Systematically: When temperatures are cold, muscles are tighter and take more time to warm up. Make sure to acclimate your body to the winter temps by starting your workouts inside. Walk some loops around your kitchen or jog in place in your living room for about 5 minutes before heading outdoors. Once outside, take it easy and give your muscles a chance to acclimate to the conditions. During the first 10 minutes of your planned workout, take a couple of 30 second breaks to stretch or focus on your breathing. After several weeks of exercising in colder temps, you will notice your body acclimating to the winter weather when you require fewer breaks.
- Cool Down Systematically: You may think that chilly weather is an automatic cool-down for your body, but don’t let Mother Nature fool you. It is actually more important to execute a cool-down routine when temperatures are low to ensure that you don’t get too cold, too quickly. Slow your pace towards the end of your workout for about 3 – 5 minutes and then head inside to stretch where it is warm. Make sure to remove any extra layers so that your body can breathe and cool. A cool-down should last about 10 minutes and combine slow movements and stretching to ensure that your body temperature does not fluctuate drastically. Complete your cool-down by changing out of your sweaty wet clothes and taking a warm shower.
- Stay Safe: Although staying on track is important for any exercise or workout regimen, safety must be your top priority. Typically, early morning and evening temps are the coldest of the day with highest temps occurring in the middle of the afternoon. If your busy work and life schedule don’t accommodate the forecast, think about going to a local gym or doing a modified workout at home. You don’t want to jeopardize your safety by working out in freezing, icy, or dangerous conditions.