“Oh, the weather outside is frightful. But the fire is so delightful.” Unfortunately, sitting in front of the fire until spring arrives is not an option. Summertime workouts come with their own problems, but keeping up your fitness routine in colder weather can be dangerous for different reasons. In today’s blog post, we’ll talk about the dangers of exercising in winter and how to work out safely during the colder months.
The dangers of cold weather workouts
While working out in a winter wonderland, you should be aware of the risks.
Frostbite and hypothermia
Workouts are good for your health— but they won’t do you any good if they land you in the hospital with frostbite or hypothermia! Dress appropriately and monitor yourself as you exercise. If you spot one of the warning signs below, head home and warm up:
Frostbite warning signs and symptoms include:
- Cold skin and a pricking sensation
- Unusual skin color
- Hard or waxy-looking skin
Hypothermia warning signs and symptoms include:
- Intense shivering
- Slurred speech
- Loss of coordination
Decreased daylight hours
Shorter days make for cozy nights— and hazardous workouts. If you exercise before or after work, the sun is likely MIA. Wear reflective gear, keep the headphones out, and stay aware of your surroundings.
While summer usually gets the most blame for dehydration, winter silently dehydrates athletes right and left. During winter, your body’s thirst response diminishes by up to 40%, and your kidneys go into overdrive— producing urine instead of conserving water. You’ll need to make a conscious effort to stay hydrated this season and override your body’s “I’m not thirsty” response.
How to dress for winter workouts
The areas of your body most susceptible to cold weather are the parts furthest away from your body’s core— your head, hands, and feet. Protect yourself with a hat or headband over your ears, moisture-wicking gloves, and thermal socks.
Extremities aside, dress in layers you can easily remove. Closest to your body, choose a moisture-wicking fabric. Avoid cotton at all costs— that fabric keeps your sweat close to your body. Then, wear a layer of insulation, like fleece or wool, and finish the look with a waterproof jacket.
Focus on your warm-up
It is never a good idea to skip your warm-up, but it’s downright dangerous to miss it in winter. Sure, a workout is a healthy choice, but exercising cold muscles is one way to land yourself in urgent care. Here are a few exercises to warm up your body and prepare yourself for exercise:
- Dynamic stretches – While static stretching (holding a stretch for an extended period) is great for post-workout, dynamic stretches take your joints and muscles through their natural range of motion and prepare you for your workout
- Take a brisk walk – swing your arms and get your feet going for 7 – 10 minutes to get that blood flowing
- Jumping jacks – Boost your heart rate and get blood flowing to your extremities
- Squats – Prepare your lower body for exercise with squats — just make sure you’re doing them correctly!
- Arm circles – Warm up your arms and get your circulation going with forward and backward arm circles
Follow these tips, and you’ll be prepared to work out safely in cold weather. That delightful fireplace will be waiting for you upon your return!