Shorter days and falling temperatures can make it difficult to stick to your normal exercise routine outdoors. In order to keep your fitness levels up during this time of year it’s important to be prepared for Old Man Winter’s arrival.
The proper clothing is essential for performance and health, especially when it comes to exercising in cold climates. It’s important to layer up your clothing to prevent heat loss when exercising in the cold to avoid conditions such as hypothermia and frostbite. It is best to wear many layers of lighter weight clothing than one bulky jacket. Layers of lightweight water- proof clothing allow more range of motion and the ability to shed layers once warmed up. For your first innermost layer wear a light synthetic material that wicks away sweat such as Nike dry fit, or Under Armour cold gear. These items can be a bit pricey, but they are well worth it, because materials such as cotton remain wet and become uncomfortable fast! Cover the innermost layer with a light fleece or waterproof jacket for warmth. Don’t forget to wear gloves, warm socks, and a hat. Much of the body’s heat is lost through our heads. Extremities can go numb and are susceptible to frost bite when exposed to severe temperatures for long periods of time.
If you’re heading outdoors check the weather forecast. In close to freezing temperatures always be extra cautious of ice patches and watch your footing to prevent injury. It’s important to take into account wind chill. Even if the temperature isn’t dreadful, the wind chill can make it feel a whole lot worse, especially if you’re doing a fast moving activity such as skiing or cycling.
Just as you let your car warm-up longer in cold weather, you must also warm-up your muscles, tendons, and ligaments for a longer duration as well. Cold temperatures make the muscles tense up as they try to conserve heat. Increase your normal warm-up by at least 5 minutes, and be sure to stretch to prevent unwanted injuries.