Sep 19, 2014

Make the Most of Your Winter Workout

The colder months are a great time to switch up your fitness routine. However, working out in winter does take some thought and preparation. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your winter workout.

Wear the right clothes

If you’re an avid runner, or enjoy a walk around the park, there’s no reason to stop in winter. Just make sure you wear the right workout apparel that will keep you warm, even when you’re working up a sweat.

Invest in a hat and gloves to keep your head and hands warm, as well as layered clothing beneath an outer shell that is waterproof and windproof. Layering clothing helps maintain body heat while preventing sweat from staying on your skin. Start with a thin layer of synthetic microfibers close to the skin, such as polypropylene or capilene to help draw sweat away from the body. Then add a layer to provide insulation and help wick moisture.

If you’re thinking of stopping for a break, carry some dry clothes to change into, or change into fresh clothes once you get home to reduce the risk of hypothermia.

Get outdoors

No matter what time of year it is, fresh air and the outdoors is great for the body and ideal for a workout. Research published in Environmental Science & Technology found that just five minutes of outdoor activity a day, such as walking, gardening or cycling, improved mental health and self-esteem.

Getting a dose of natural sunlight in your day, particularly within two hours of waking up, can also help prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)—a type of depression that is common in winter and can sap your energy and mood.

Make it fun

There are plenty of fun winter activities you can enjoy that won’t even feel like a workout. Downhill skiing, snowboarding and ice-skating can burn lots of calories and are a great way to spend time with friends or family.

You may like to splurge on a personal trainer for a month, or sign up for a challenge such as a competition at your gym, a winter race or a 30-day challenge to improve your fitness. One study found that 64 percent of people will push themselves harder and get better results if they workout with a friend. So grab a friend and try something new!

Stay hydrated

It’s just as important to hydrate in winter as it is in summer. You may not feel as though you’re sweating as much, but you lose more fluid through your lungs as you breath and can be more susceptible to frostbite if you don’t stay hydrated. Cold winds also rob the body of moisture and increase the risk of dehydration, so drink water an hour or two before exercising and carry a water bottle with you during your workout.

Stay safe

If you’re doing a workout outdoors, plan your route in advance and make sure it’s free from obstacles and ice along the way. Make sure the area your using is well-lit and close to home, so if you get tired, wet or injure yourself, you can escape the elements and get home quickly. Of course, some days just aren’t suitable for an outdoor workout, so use your judgement and enjoy some indoor exercises until the weather improves.