Just because the temperature dips doesn’t mean your exercise routine needs to take a dive. Keep these four rules in mind to exercise safely all winter long.
Rule #1: Warm Up
Pun intended! Get blood flowing to muscles, and increase your heart rate before heading out into the cold. The increased circulation will help prime muscles for activity and may help reduce the risk of injury.
Rule #2: Keep On Hydrating
This may be more obvious during warmer months, but you still need to drink plenty of fluids when exercising in the cold; you’re still sweating, and you need to replenish fluids lost. Both warm and cold fluids will help contribute to hydration, so reach for whichever you prefer. A little caffeine will help boost performance, but too much can have a negative effect on digestion, so keep your intake conservative.
Rule #3: Seek Shelter
Even die-hard outdoor enthusiasts need to know when to take the workout indoors. Bitter-cold and icy conditions can lead to treacherous surfaces, injuries and even frostbite. It’s also beneficial for everyone to cross-train, so hit up a yoga class or take a swim in the local indoor pool a couple of days a week when outdoor conditions become an issue.
Rule #4: Bundle Up
Keep skin protected by reducing exposure to the elements. An insulated hat will retain body heat and help wick away sweat. It’s also important to keep fingers and toes toasty, as blood flow tends to dissipate in these areas when the air is chilly. And who wants to exercise with numb fingers and toes?
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.