As winter draws near, the nights are getting longer, and the weather is getting colder. These dark mornings and brisk evenings can make even the most enthusiastic exercisers retreat to their bed. Winter can seem like a great excuse to ditch the exercise regime you have built up over the summer, but it doesn’t need to be.
There is no need to ruin healthy habits and reduce your exercise plans because of the season. Exercising outdoors offers many benefits to both your mind and body, and that doesn’t change when the weather turns. With a few small adjustments and an enthusiastic mindset, you can be working out right through until spring.
Here are our top tips for training even in the colder months.
Invest In Good Kit
The most important thing you need to exercise outdoors in winter is the right kit. Your work out gear for summer simply won’t cut it in the cold and wet months. To make the most out of your exercise, and keep yourself safe and comfortable, you need to plan ahead.
Consider these key points when planning your winter work out kit;
· Keep Dry And Warm
You might think that your workout wear for winter needs to focus on keeping you warm whilst you’re out and about but staying dry is even more vital. The body loses heat faster when it’s wet, so if you get soaked as soon as you head out, you will quickly find yourself cold and miserable.
Wearing wet clothes can not only be uncomfortable and unpleasant, but dangerous as it increases your risk of hypothermia. Avoid cotton clothes which will hold moisture, and instead, choose synthetic fibres which are made to dry quickly.
· Wear Layers
One of the most effective ways of staying warm and comfortable when exercising outside in winter is to layer up. Choose a base layer that will wick away sweat and keep you dry, and then add layers for warmth and protection from the elements.
If it is very cold, you can then have a layer for warmth, such as a polar fleece. Your outer layer should act as a shell to protect from wind and rain.
· Stay Bright
Even if bright, bold colours aren’t your usual style, they are important for outdoor exercising. As the days draw in, it is likely you will be working out in the dark more often. To stay safe on your work out, you need to dress brightly to ensure others can see you. Consider reflective clothing or blinking lights.
· Protect Extremities
When your body is cold, it will move your blood to the centre of your body to warm it up. This can leave your hands, ears and toes colder as they have less blood circulating. Always wear a hat, gloves and thick socks to keep your extremities from getting chilly.
Get The Right Equipment
It isn’t just what you wear that is important, but the equipment you use. If you are cyclist, then ensure you have winter tyres on your bike, as well as lights and reflectors. If you are into running, then invest in decent trainers that will keep your feet dry and warm whilst also protecting you from slippy paths.
A warm-up is vital for all exercising whatever the weather, but is even more important in the winter. Cold muscles are more prone to injuries, and a dynamic warm-up will help prepare them for the exercise ahead. This limits the chances of getting strains and sprains and aids your recovery.
Warm-ups should be specific to your chosen exercise in order to work the right muscle groups. Runners should focus on squatting, lunging and engaging the core before heading out. Whichever warm-up you choose; they should be low-intensity exercises that mimic the work out you are about to complete.
Get Your Breathing Right
Breathing when it’s cold outside can be more difficult than in warm weather. Once your heart rate is up, and the temperature drops, the cold, dry air can be painful to breathe. Your airways narrow slightly in the cold, and that makes inhaling more of a challenge.
Try to breathe through your nose as much as possible, as that helps to warm the air. However, this isn’t always easy and can feel unnatural during exercise when you are breathing heavily. Practice nose breathing while exercising before the weather turns too cold. Another way to manage this is to wrap a scarf or bandana around the mouth, which works to trap the water vapour and keep the air moist.