Has the colder temperatures of wintertime halted your outdoor exercise habit? You don’t need to wait until warmer weather to get back out there. There are so many benefits to exercising outdoors: Improves mood and self esteem, decreases the winter blues, low cost, easy access, and allows you to connect with nature.
Try these winter outdoor exercise tips to help make workouts safe, warm, and comfortable.
Getting wet is the quickest way to lose body heat. Once we get cold and wet, we are more likely to ditch the workouts and head inside. The combination of cold and wetness could also increase risk for hypothermia and frostbite if we are in freezing conditions. Pass up the clothes made with cotton. Cotton will soak up sweat and rain, as it holds in moisture. Opt for synthetic fibers such as nylon, polyester, and polypropylene. These fibers are designed to dry quickly and get rid of moisture 50% faster than cotton.
Dress in Layers
Layers are important for trapping warm air close to the body and keeping away the outside elements (snow, rain, wind). Here is the best way to layer up:
The first layer, closest to your body, should be made of the synthetic materials discussed above. This will pull sweat and wetness away from your skin.
A middle layer should consist of a fabric such as polar fleece. This will provide extra warmth.
Adding a third, outer layer will help to protect from wind, snow and rain. Depending on the weather, this could range from a lightweight nylon windbreaker to a heavier waterproof jacket.
Be Bright and Colorful
Yes, it is colder in the winter, but it is also darker too. The rain, snow and overcast skies creates poor visibility and makes it harder for others to see you. Wear bright colored clothing if possible, and possibly add some reflective gear or blinking lights.
In cold temperatures, our bodies pull heat towards the core. This leaves less blood available to hands, feet, ears, and nose. To protect these areas, wear gloves/mittens, a hat or headband, and thick socks. Go with wool or synthetic fabric rather than cotton.
Love your Skin
Winter air can be very dry. To avoid dry skin, drink plenty of water and use a daily moisturizing cream. For added protection, apply Vaseline to sensitive areas like tip of nose, ears, and nostrils for added protection. A scarf or a running mask could offer additional protection from the wind.
And here’s something you might not have thought about during the winter: the sun. Yes, you can also get sunburn in the winter. Even if it’s cloudy, UV rays can reach and damage our skin. In fact, snow can reflect up to 80 percent of UV rays, so when there’s snow on the ground, we are exposed to the same rays twice. Get into the habit of applying sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to exposed skin prior to heading outdoors. SPF lip balm, and UV protected sunglasses should also be worn.
Sometimes, we don’t feel as thirsty working out in cold temperatures as we do when exercising in warmer weather. Don’t let this fool you. We are still losing fluids through sweating and breathing, and need to replace those fluids with adequate water intake. In general, we need to aim for 2-3 liters of water daily, and more if exercising. Grab a water bottle and take sips throughout your workout.
Whether it be walking, hiking, snow shoeing, running, or skiing, make a plan for exercise and head outside for some wintertime fun. Not only will you reap physical benefits, but combining exercise with the outdoors provides an excellent way to manage stress and boost your overall mental health as well. If outdoor exercise isn’t your thing, no worries, pick something you enjoy and establish a regular routine. Check out our Bluesky MD Pinterest Board for a variety of exercise ideas.