Outdoor Winter Training

New Years brings opportunity and optimism, a reset or fresh start to new behaviors and beginnings. Weight-loss, diets, fitness, and better health are all under the microscope and evaluated in order to create a “better” you. With the New Year falling in the dead of winter, it does not make pursuing new goals any easier. Shorter days and colder temperatures do not encourage outdoor activities, yet this does not need to be an obstacle! With planning, attention and care, the cold does not have to be a reason resolutions fail.

Gyms, fitness classes, and sports leagues are all attractive alternatives to going out in the cold. Although, incorporating outdoor workouts into a routine can be quite beneficial, if pursued with forethought. The human body is designed to maintain a constant safe temperature. When too hot, we sweat to cool off. When too cold, we shiver to generate heat. Even on the coldest of days the body will work to stay constant.

Here are a couple of important hints to make a wintertime workout both beneficial and enjoyable.

  • Get some wintertime workout gear:
    • A base layer of a specialty “wicking” material that pulls moisture away from the skin.
    • An insulating layer to let moisture escape yet keep warmth in.
    • A wind breaking, breathable layer to keep the weather out.
    • A hat to keep heat from escaping from the top of the head.
    • Gloves to keep hands and fingers warm, and to protect the hands if a fall occurs.
    • A good shoe with a grippy sole and synthetic socks. Many options of “winter” athletic shoes are available with materials like “gore-tex”, making shoes more water resistant and breathable. In extreme cases a light traction device may be added to the sole.
    • Sunglasses serve to keep cold air and sun out of the eyes, improving vision. Keep in mind that on snowy days the reflection from the snow can make vision an issue.
    • On very cold days, cold air may make breathing difficult and even induce asthma or asthmatic symptoms. A scarf, neck gator or buff is effective when worn over the mouth to warm air before inhaled.
  • Overdressing because it is “cold” out will result in potential overheating and a bad experience. Stay away from cotton fabrics as they tend to absorb water and hold it near the skin leading to excessive cooling, discomfort and potential hypothermia.
  • Don’t forget water! Even in cold temperatures the body’s “engine” is working hard to maintain stasis. Hydration is still very important while working out in colder weather.

Keep in mind that an outside-day will most often not be the most intense of workouts. It is an opportunity to shake a routine up, enjoy the outdoors, work on balance and enjoy yourself. The simple act of getting outside does wonders for state-of-mind. The benefits of a sunny day lifts the spirit and helps create calcium-absorbing Vitamin D. So, layer up, be aware and have a blast incorporating outdoor workouts into your New Year’s fitness resolutions.