Winter Workout Safety Tips
Are you practicing winter workout safety? As the temperature dips and winter approaches, it is not unusual for you to shift your workout to more indoor activities, especially at gyms and fitness centers. However, with the specter of COVID all around us, you may decide to continue exercising outside for health safety reasons. Outdoor workouts can continue this winter if you are aware of the unique risks brought about in colder months as opposed to those in the summer months.
5 Outdoor Winter Workout Health and Safety Tips
While it is a natural instinct to bundle up against the cold, it is important to remember that our bodies produce a lot of heat that needs to be dissipated while exercising. Be sure to wear multiple thin layers that can be easily removed during a workout to help release the built-up heat. Layers close to the skin should be made of synthetic fibers that can wick away moisture and keep the skin dry. Outer layers should help protect against the elements such as wind, rain and snow. Additionally, with shorter days, the outer layers should be lighter in color or include reflective materials for working out in the dark.
Protect Your Extremities
In cold weather, the body shunts more blood flow to the core of the body to help maintain proper body temperature. This leaves the outermost parts your body, fingers, toes and ears, more vulnerable to the cold and possible frostbite. Be sure to include additional protection such as hats or headbands for your ears and gloves your hands. Specialized winter footwear may be necessary to protect your feet as typical running shoes are designed to release heat while running. An additional option may be to buy your sneakers a half size bigger to allow space for thicker socks. Finally, the same rules apply for covering your hands and feet as with the rest of your body. Stick to synthetic fibers close to the skin with thicker fibers covering those.
All your workouts require a proper warmup. Increasing the blood flow to muscles and tendons increases the temperature and pliability of the tissues, decreasing the risk of injury. However, in the cold of winter, it can take longer to achieve the increase in blood flow and tissue temperature.
And be sure to make the warmup a dynamic one. The old form of static stretching, like bending over to touch your toes, does not provide the necessary effect to decrease injury risk. Instead, movements such as body weight squats and lunges can get the muscles ready for a winter workout involving running or cycling.
Many people forget about the importance of hydration in cold weather because they do not feel the added stress of excess heat and perspiration like in the heat of the summer months.
However, there are several factors in cold air that increase the demands on fluid maintenance in the body. Warming the cold, dry air as we breath it in and more rapid evaporation of sweat in the cold are just a couple causes of significant water loss during a winter workout. Make sure to maintain regular fluid intake throughout your workout to prevent dehydration. For workouts under an hour, water is sufficient. But longer workouts should include some type of sports drink or electrolyte replacement.
Outdoor workouts are likely to be more popular than usual with the reality of COVID this winter. While the cold can be uncomfortable for many of us, the important thing is to keep some form of exercise routine. Moving our workouts outside can be performed safely by following the few, simple tips above.
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