Make your winter exercises as easy and painless as possible
It’s so much harder to work out during cold weather. However, physical activity is important, no matter the season.
Working out in the winter boosts your energy, keeps away the winter blues, and helps prevent seasonal weight gain.
Whether you get outside for a run, hit a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout, or do some strength training, it’s just as important to warm up before and recover after. Muscles tend to work better when you’re warm, so it’s important to stretch and prepare. If you plan to work out when the weather drops below 60 degrees, make sure you prepare enough to prevent illness and injury.
Before you start your run or yoga routine, consider these activities to get your body ready.
- Get fuel
Eat carbs for fuel. Consume protein for better performance and recovery. Take fats for longer workouts. A good blend of all these macronutrients could be overnight protein oats. Mix oats, milk, protein powder, peanut butter, and your favorite fruit and store them in the fridge. To maximize performance, eat it two to three hours before working out. If you don’t have enough time to eat a whole meal, grab digestible foods such as bananas, apples or granola bars.
- Warm up
Before crushing a workout in the cold, it is crucial to warm up first. Plan on a longer warm up pre-workout. Start your workout with a brisk walk to slowly raise your core temperature. Try warming up for 10 minutes to ensure plenty of body warmth.
Combine your brisk walk with a couple of stretches on your legs and arms. After, do some basic bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, squats and lunges. This gets your blood flowing and ready for a higher intensity workout. Try some dynamic stretches as well. These include leg kicks, body rotations and side leg swings.
The material closest to your skin should be dry clothes that will let the sweat escape. Garments with wool, a cotton blend or polypropylene work well. If you wear something that holds sweat, it will stick to your body and heat will escape. Stay away from 100% cotton shirts.
Your second layer should be clothes that will keep you warm. If it’s super cold, add two layers of warm clothes, such as a tracksuit top and a sweater. Add a water-resistant layer if it’s snowing or raining. Also wear bright colors in poor weather. Wear mittens, a hat and wool-blend socks. These layers will protect you from frostbite.
- Drink water
The weather isn’t just cold; it’s dry as well. To protect your skin, make sure you drink plenty of water before your workout.
Suggestions for during your workout
Once your workout is underway, don’t forget to:
You might find it harder to breathe during cold weather. Instead of inhaling air through your nose, wrap a scarf or another thin layer around your mouth and breathe through it.
- Remove layers as needed
As your body heats up from working out, it’s OK to remove layers. This prevents dehydration and frostbite. Take off your top layer and tie it around your waist. If you get cold again, you can put it back on.
- Continue hydrating
You’re not going to feel thirsty like you do when you’re working out in warm weather, but your body is still losing as much fluid. Fuel up with electrolytes.
Cold weather causes your muscles to contract as they lose more heat. Your joints also get tighter. As you work out in the cold, your muscles are going to work a little harder. You need to take a little more time recovering. Plan on a longer recovery session post-workout.
- Perform cool-down exercises
After you finish your workout or run, slow your heart rate down by finishing with low-intensity exercises like a walk. This will regulate your blood flow and gradually bring your heart rate back to normal. This also prevents post-workout shivers.
- Take your cold clothes off
Quickly removing wet, clingy clothing prevents cold sweats.
- Use a roller
If you have been running on icy roads, you’ve most likely been trying to avoid falling. Stretch your legs out post-workout using a roller. Your legs will thank you tomorrow. It’ll also help if you plan on doing another run the next day.
Eat a balanced meal or snack, including a good amount of protein and carbohydrates, for maximum recovery.
- Drink water
It’s just as important to drink water post-workout as it is pre-workout. A good idea is to add lemon or ginger to some warm water to heat you from the inside.
After an intense workout, your muscles may feel tense. Focus on stretching them out. If you’re up to it, stretch the muscles you didn’t focus on to improve your performance during your next workout.
- Take a warm shower
A shower will relieve your tense muscles.
Don’t let the cold deter you from a workout. Cold weather exercise can enhance endurance and your mood. The habits you form now will make warm-weather workouts in a couple months even better.