Even professional athletes struggle to find the motivation to head outdoors and workout on snowy and rainy days and many of us find that our outdoor workout habits well and truly go into hibernation over the winter months. Outdoor exercise is good for both your mind and body, no matter the weather or time of year and getting outside, even in the cold, allows us to reconnect with nature, get away from the daily stresses and boost our fitness and focus.
Exercise can help us to find the winter blues, boost our energy levels and prevent weight gain in the winter months. But, when exercising outdoors in the winter, it is important that you stay safe and look after yourself in order to protect your body and prevent injuries and accidents.
Dress Dry, Not Just Warm
When heading out for a run or cycle in the winter, our first thought may be to preserve warmth, so we dress in warmer layers. Whilst this is important, one of the quickest ways in which we lose body heat is by getting wet and getting caught in the rain will soon make you cold, miserable and irritated.
When you’re wet and cold, you’re much more likely to cut your workout short and you also risk hypothermia or, in extreme freezing conditions, getting frostbite. It is important that you dress to keep dry as well as warm, so choose clothing made from synthetic fibres, such as nylon and polyester, as they wick away moisture much faster than cotton.
Opt For Bright Clothing
Whilst black may be chic, bright coloured clothes are much better for outdoor exercise as not only is it colder in the winter, but it’s darker too. Rain, snow and overcast dark skies make visibility much poorer, so people will be less likely to spot you. This applies to whether you’re sharing the road with vehicles or sharing a path or trail with other winter sports enthusiasts. Wear brightly coloured clothing and, if cycling, purchase reflective gear or blinking lights.
Often, people don’t tend to feel as thirst when doing cold-weather workouts or exercise, but you are still losing fluids through breathing and sweat, even in lower temperatures, and you must replace those fluids by drinking water to avoid dehydration. Be sure to sip water throughout your workout and consider switching to a sports drink if you’re planning a workout longer than 90 minutes. It is important that you don’t overdo it as, no matter how much water you drink, your body is only able to absorb around three to four ounces of liquid at a time.
Look After Your Body
As with any exercise, it is important that you look after your body before and after your workouts. Sticking to a healthy diet and taking regular vitamins and supplements, such as high strength fish oil and magnesium tablets, will help to keep your body working properly on the days where you aren’t working out. Common sense is also vital when working out in the winter – avoid running or cycling on snowy and icy days to minimise the risk of slips and falls and keep yourself safe and seen.