Exercising outdoors during the winter makes winter a bit more bearable. It not only allows you to explore nature in a different season, but improves your mood. Why fight winter when you can just embrace it!
That being said, during summer, going outside for a workout is easy peasy. Throw on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and you’re good to go. Once winter sets in, it requires a little more effort. But with proper planning, you can stay active even when the days are shorter, temperatures drop and there’s snow on the ground.
Here are our tips for staying active during the winter season:
- Wear the right shoes – Falls are much more likely on ice and snow. You can help avoid a nasty fall by picking a shoe with a heavier tread to avoid slipping on wet leaves, snow or ice. For additional traction, you may also consider adding cleats to your shoes (such as Yaktrax or other similar product). Also, keep in mind that it’s wise to slow down if you can’t see the pavement due to snow or ice covering. Doing so can help you stay balanced and avoid a nasty fall!
- Layer up! - The best way to stay warm is to layer your clothing. Always aim for a bit more than you think you will need, that way you can remove layers if you get too warm. A moisture wicking base layer just over your skin can be quite helpful in keeping you warmer, not to mention numerous options for pants, pullovers, sweaters and socks. Here are some great online resources for ideas on what to wear under different conditions for various outdoor activities:
- Keep your extremities warm – Even while working up a sweat, your extremities – fingers, toes, ears, etc. – may get too cold. And with age, comes a greater risk of frostbite due to slower circulation. To keep everything warm, wear a pair of gloves or mittens, warm socks and a hat or head warmer that covers your ears. Many manufacturers of gloves and mittens provide temperature ratings for their products.
- Make time for a warmup – Doing a pre-exercise warmup is especially important during the cold weather months. For Example, we suggest 5-10 minutes of brisk walking and dynamic stretches to make sure your muscles are warmed up before launching into a run.
- Remember to hydrate – As temperatures drop, it’s easy to forget that you still need to stay hydrated when doing physical activity. But it’s still important to take in fluids before and after your workout to avoid fatigue and keep your muscles working properly. If your workout is longer than about 1 hour, it is important to take in fluids during exercise as well.
- Exercise during daylight hours – If you normally exercise in the early morning or evening hours, you may consider switching things up so your workout falls during daylight hours. Doing so will allow you to exercise when there is ample light and when it’s a bit warmer outside.
- Light it up! – If you decide to venture outside for a workout before the sun comes up or after it goes down, make sure you’re visible in the dark by wearing a glow in the dark coat, vest, or belt and /or a red flashing light. You might also consider investing in a small headlamp to make yourself more visible – and to light the path in front of you!
- Try something new! - Winter provides an opportunity to try some new activities that we can’t do during the warmer months. Examples include snowshoeing, cross country skiing, ice skating, and downhill skiing. Try out a new sport, you never know, you might find your next outdoor obsession!
- If all else fails, take your workout indoors – When the weather is really uncooperative, it may be safer to move your workout indoors. Although getting fresh air is wonderful, sometimes it’s safer and more productive to hit the gym
- Have a nagging injury that prevents you from getting outside? - See your physical therapist! A physical therapist’s goal is to keep you moving and doing the things you enjoy, including getting outside this winter!
Tell us: How do you stay active during the winter months?