Last week, I wrote about why it's important to exercise outdoors during the winter. "Easier said than done," was a common response from our readers. So, today, I'll focus on what we can do to make these workouts as effective and pleasant as possible.
Here are 5 tips for outdoor winter workouts:
1. Don't Dress Like a Tough Guy
Last weekend, it was cold here in New York. Really cold. I layered up. I threw on a wool hat that covered my ears. I put on warm gloves and socks. And then I layered up again. I took no shame in bundling up like a 10-year-old going sledding on a snow day. While on my run, I saw a man running in nothing but running shorts and shoes – sans shirt! I couldn't believe it. Some embrace cold workouts by going all-in and end up making it harder on themselves just win “tough points,” but they end up losing “smart points.” Layers help us manage air flow, body temperature, and moisture from sweat. The Mayo Clinic provides details on its website on how to layer-up effectively.
2. Drink Up
When it’s 80 degrees outside and we sweat buckets, reaching for a cold drink is as instinctive as breathing. When it’s freezing, we often overlook the integral part hydration plays in exercising safely. We sweat when it’s cold and we expend energy, even if we don’t seem that thirsty. In cold weather, the body’s thirst response is diminished by 40 percent due to blood vessel constriction tricking our minds into thinking we don’t need to drink up. It’s important to drink water before, during, and after exercising outdoors.
3. Grab a Buddy
It’s especially hard for many of us to motivate ourselves to exercise when it’s very cold out. This is a good time to partner up with a friend or participate with a group. Working out with others helps hold us accountable and offers a sense of athletic camaraderie. Running Coach Jenny Hadfield says, “You'll have a built in motivational source, a friend to chat with along the way and it is safer to run in numbers. Running with others (or pets) is a great way to beat the winter doldrums.”
4. Grab a Shovel (New England Special)
As of yesterday, Boston winter snow totals had reached nearly eight feet, just 12 inches to go to hit the season record with much of winter to go. As frustrated as our New England friends must be, if you can't beat them, join them. The "them" New Englanders can't beat, of course, is the snow. Embracing the snow is the way to go. And what better way than grabbing that shovel and getting a good 'ole fashioned workout with it. In between periods of moving snow from one large snowy mound to another, there are some effective exercises to partake in. Use a shovel to help improve squat form, as a lightweight to use to rotate your body and work the obliques, or carry snow for weighted deadlifts and lunges.
5. Clean Up Quickly
We layered up. We completed that long run, bike trail, or circuit training routine. Perhaps we even shoveled. And we’re home and exhausted. After stretching and doing our cool-down routine, the last thing we want to do is take all those layers off and jump in the shower. Do your best to resist the urge to delay cleaning up. It’s important to get out of the clothes that you wore pretty quickly. Sitting around in wet, cold clothes will make you vulnerable to getting sick and prevents your muscles from loosening up.
We'd love to hear from you. What are your tips for getting motivated to work out this winter? Comment below or on our Facebook page at facebook.com/flytefitness, or tweet us at @flytefitness.
Be Flyte Fit,
Co-Founder & CEO