As the seasons change, though, so does our motivation and ability to exercise outdoors! Cold weather has the power to discourage even the most motivated exerciser, but don’t pack away your desire to workout with your tank tops and shorts! Learn how to properly dress and prepare for the drop in temperatures and you’ll continue to enjoy your workouts:
- Dress in layers: One of the biggest mistakes you can make while exercising in cold weather is to dress too warmly! Exercise generates a considerable amount of heat, enough to make you feel like it’s much warmer than it really is! Yet, once your sweat starts to dry, you can get chilled. Therefore, the best plan of action is to dress in layers so that you can remove as soon as you start to sweat, then put back on as you cool down. I recommend a first thin layer of synthetic material, such as polypropylene, which draws sweat away from your body. You’ll want to avoid cotton, which stays wet next to your skin. Next, add a layer of fleece or wool for insulation. Top this with a waterproof, breathable outer layer. A heavy down jacket or vest may cause you to overheat if you’re exercising hard. I suggest experimenting until you find a combination of clothing that works well for you based on your size and exercise intensity.
- Protect your hands, feet and ears: When it’s cold, blood flow is concentrated on your body’s core, leaving your hands and feet vulnerable to frostbite. You’ll definitely need to wear gloves! You’ll also want warm socks. I recommend thick thermal socks or an extra pair of regular socks. Finally, don’t forget a hat or headband to protect your ears.
- Know the elements and choose appropriate gear: Choose footwear with enough traction to prevent falls if it’s icy or snowy. Consider using chemical heat packs to warm up your hands or feet. If it’s dark when you exercise outside, wear reflective clothing.
- …And don’t forget to hydrate: Our hydration needs don’t change when the seasons change. We continue to lose fluids during cold weather exercise the same way we do in warm weather, but because the hormone that triggers our sense of thirst reacts differently when we are exposed to cold weather, we don’t feel the urge to drink as much in the colder months. Pay attention to the warning signs of dehydration and make sure to drink plenty of water!
Paying attention to the forecast, dressing in layers and staying hydrated can help you stay safe and warm while exercising outdoors in cold weather.