Winter approaches. It’s getting frosty outside, and likely darker than you’d like it to be by the time you’re back home. It’s easy to fit in a quick jog before dinner time when there’s a gorgeous sunset and it’s sixty degrees outside, but when it’s pitch black and thirty by seven, it’s even easier to snuggle in.
Whether it’s classes or work, we understand. Feeling tired, hungry, and then freezing cold is a recipe for not exercising, but, don’t forget that there are serious benefits to exercising during the winter!
When it’s dark, pushing on with your workout routine can be dangerous, so here’s a few tips on how to exercise safely in the cold:
- See and be seen.
During Winter, headlights are more likely to obscure objects lateral to the driver. Wear bright-colored clothes with reflective binding to make sure that drivers know that you are there. Especially when it snows, it can be difficult to jog or walk through your usual route, so stay sharp and keep track of where you’re going and what’s around you.
When the temperature is below zero, if you push yourself too hard and the cold sets in to your body, exhaustion can cause you to swiftly lose consciousness. Winter clothing is often dark-colored, so wearing bright-colored clothes will help make sure that you’ll be seen, especially in the off-chance that something happens. Make sure to keep your phone with you!
- Dress for the weather.
Make sure to wear clothing that is climate-appropriate! Not that people need reminders during Winter, but what seems warm and suitable during normal wear can quickly become harmful as the body sweats or snow melts on your outfit. With sweat, a normal cotton sweater can quickly freeze on contact with snow or cold winds, rapidly cooling your core, which can be dangerous.
A t-shirt or undershirt that is designed to absorb sweat is recommended. So too are goretex jackets and gloves, long johns with thermal linings, long socks, and water-proof sneakers. You can add a beanie and earmuffs too, if you don’t mind the encumberment. If you do, it’s a good idea to bring those for after you’re done, as sweat can chill your body dozens of times faster than just the wind on its own!
- Prepare and nourish your body.
The body is going to be losing heat constantly, at a steady rate. You’ll need to make sure it has the nutrition to fuel your body as it responds by burning more energy to compensate. The body will be using more energy than it would in summertime, so eating more is recommended! Normal activity during the Winter alone can exhaust most people, and hearty meals always help. Soups and stews with beans, lentils, and whole grains are packed full of protein, complex carbohydrates, and other nutrients and minerals. If you’re used to exercising in the morning, just be wary and maybe have a piece of fruit or a protein bar, especially if it’s below zero.
- Know when to stay home.
It’s kind of impressive to stick through the proverbial “rain or shine”, especially when it comes to working out, but if it’s below zero, it’s a good idea to stay home. Snow, sleet, frozen sidewalks, black ice, and other hazards are also good things to avoid, and they happen commonly when it’s below zero. Apart from slipping and hurting yourself or getting trapped in a snowfall, when it’s below zero, the body needs to compensate a lot more for how cold it is. It will hurt more to breathe, and you’ll fatigue a lot more quickly—dangerous conditions, especially if you’re sweating. The sweat will begin to freeze, instead of evaporating off, as your body rapidly cools during exercise, which can cause fainting. Even if it’s clear outside and the weather is still, if it’s below zero, be careful!