Winter is coming, and it’s unlikely to be like anything you’ve experienced. The COVID-19 pandemic will squash plans and the cold darkness will push people indoors.
Well, that’s one way of looking at it.
The winter workout can be less than appealing too. But it can be great for you. And if the idea of exercising indoors is a nightmare for you—it is to me—2020 could be the year to take it outdoors.
Outdoor winter workouts may even offer unique benefits you won’t get in summer. For one, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard in the cold. You’ll likely sweat less and use less energy, boosting the efficiency or activity.
Further, there is evidence to suggest that exercise in cold temperatures could transform belly and thigh fat into metabolically active calorie-burning brown fat.
Exercising outdoors in the winter, if done during daylight hours, can promote vitamin D exposure. This may help encourage better sleep, reduce symptoms associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and lower the risk for seasonal vitamin D deficiency.
All of these benefits are great for heart health and are immeasurably better than spending your winter on the sofa waiting for temperatures to shoot up.
This could be the year you buy the snowshoes you’ve always wanted or tried an activity like ice skating.
Exercising safely and successfully outdoors requires some thought. Dynamic warm-ups and stretching are essential. Cold temperature can increase the risk of injury.
Dynamic stretching includes movements like:
- Arm circles
- Arm swings
- High steps
Avoid static stretches (not moving the body) to reduce the risk of injury.
You’ll also want to dress appropriately.
Suitable winter workout attire includes:
- Synthetic sweat-wicking base layers (ex. Polypropylene)
- Wool or fleece as a second layer to act as insulation (avoid cotton that can hold water and make you cooler)
- Top with a waterproof, breathable layer
- Warm hat, gloves, socks, waterproof boots
- Boots with good traction, icers, poles, etc.
Staying hydrated for winter workouts is also essential to remember. You may not feel thirsty, but you’ll need to replenish lost water if you’re sweating.
Getting outside for a daily workout can help you feel better, embrace your climate, and offer plenty of health benefits. Make the most of the season with winter workouts.