Tips for Cold Weather Workouts
This year, I spent the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend in Orlando with the youth group from our church. When we left Florida at noon on Monday, it was a balmy 72 degrees. By the time we reached Lumberton the temperature was 40 degrees colder with snow on the horizon. I had scheduled a tee time at Pinecrest on Tuesday but even with pink day glow golf balls I was not going because it was too cold!
Despite the weather, folks who are avid exercisers want to get out and get their workouts in. Whether it is a weekend trip to the mountains for some skiing and snowboarding or just trying to get in a long training run, you need be aware of how to work out safely and comfortably. To improve your comfort and safety while exercising in the cold The American College of Sports Medicine recommends the following:
— Dress in layers: Several thin layers are better than one heavy layer. This gives you the opportunity to shed clothing if you get too warm. The goal is to keep warm and minimize sweating and shivering. The Under Armor brand of performance clothing is designed to absorb perspiration and keep you dry and comfortable.
— Cover your head: Ever watch a football game on TV and see the steam rising off of a player’s head? Nearly 50 percent of body heat loss is from the head. On really cold days, wear a hat to cover both your ears and top of the head.
— Cover your mouth: If you are prone to upper respiratory problems or are uncomfortable breathing cold air, cover your mouth with a scarf or mask.
— Stay dry: Wet or damp clothing, no matter from sweat, rain or snow, significantly increases body heat loss. Again, clothing that is designed to wick away moisture is your best bet. This also goes for your feet. Make sure your socks are warm but wick the moisture.
— Stay hydrated: Dehydration affects your ability to regulate body heat and can lead to problems. Make sure you drink during your activity even if you are not thirsty. Also, avoid high caffeine drinks or alcohol as they are dehydrating as well.
— Watch out for icy patches: Unless you are skiing or snowboarding, ice and or snow can be dangerous. Plan your running on surfaces free of ice and snow to avoid bad falls. If the snowfall is too great to exercise safely, move your workout indoors.
Exercising in the cold — just like exercising in the heat — demands pre-planning. Make sure to dress in layers, slap on a hat, drink plenty of water and use caution around snow and ice. Just because there is a nip in the air does not mean you need to skip your workout.
— Kathy Hansen is an avid runner and has over 20 years experience in the health and fitness field. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.