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With the colder weather finally here, it leaves most of us wanting to hibernate in the house…which you really don’t want to do because studies show that our bodies are chemically equipped to store fat in the winter…but that doesn’t mean you are doomed to dawn your fat pants all season. Other studies have shown that outdoor exercise can crank up your energy while decreasing tension, frustration, and depression. In fact the heat and humidity in the summer can drag you down and tire you faster, but cold weather is invigorating…It stimulates your senses and makes you feel alive.
Now that you’re ready to get back out there and breath in the cooler air here are a few fitness tips to get you through that winter workout.
Grab The Right Gear
Choosing the right workout fabrics and smart layering will keep you dry and warm. First, put on a thin base layer made of synthetic fabrics to soak up excess sweat like under armour apparel. If it’s really cold outside, wear an optional middle layer, such as polar fleece, for extra warmth. Add an outer layer (or shell) to protect you from wind, snow and rain. Compression tights are great as they increase circulation in the legs,” which helps you perform better and recover quicker. They also help resist fatigue and aids with muscle coordination too. You can’t forget the proper footwear either. You’ll want to keep your feet warm and dry as well while getting the proper support and comfort you need to keep you going. Do your research and find out the best footwear for you and your area. Like here in Texas I wouldn’t need a pair of running shoes with traction soles that are for ice or snow.
Map It Out
Stable, safe ground should be your priority when planning a winter route, but you also want to try to avoid open roads and paths near water. For early morning or evenings, look for plowed, well-lit streets and sidewalks, so you can spot that dreaded black ice. Tree-lined trails and city blocks with tall buildings can help protect you from biting winds and snow flurries. You can also look for a loop in your neighborhood that you can repeat as many times as you want, that way, if you become tired or slip on ice you will be close to home and can quickly escape the cold & ice. It might also be a good idea to let a few friends and family know your route, just in case something does happen.
Warm Up & Down
Like before any other workout, walk around or jog in place indoors for five minutes or so. When your outside, give your body time to adjust by taking short 30-second breaks every few minutes for the first 10 minutes.
To avoid getting too cool to quickly during your cooldown, keep it brief: Slow your pace for about four to five minutes, then take it inside to do your stretching. Remove your extra layers and keep moving for another five minutes before hitting the shower.
Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you don’t sweat and lose your hydration. You don’t see your sweat loss in the winter like you do in the summer, but you can still sweat just as much.
Switch it Up
There are going to be some days where you absolutely can’t head out in the early morning due to the conditions, try heading out in the mid afternoon when it’s the warmest and the roads are plowed…or take your exercises indoors. Try a new workout video or hit the gym you’ll still get your heart pumping which ups those endorphins and keeps you on your schedule.
These tips can help you safely enjoy exercise when the weather turns frosty. But as you exercise in cold weather, continually monitor your body to help prevent cold-weather injuries, such as frostbite. Consider shortening your outdoor workout or skipping it altogether during weather extremes, and know when to head home and warm up.
Signs of Frostbite & Hypothermia
Frostbite and hypothermia are cold-related injuries that may quickly become life threatening. Be aware of the wind chill, dress appropriately and avoid staying in the cold too long. Drink plenty of warm fluids or warm water but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. Frostbite is most common on exposed skin, such as your cheeks, nose and ears, but it can also occur on hands and feet.
What are the symptoms and stages of frostbite?
The stages of frostbite are similar to those of burns. Early warning signs include numbness, loss of feeling or a stinging sensation.
- Frostnip or first degree frostbite is superficial and reversible but may cause significant pain when the extremity rewarms.
- Second degree frostbite is characterized by blisters that form a few hours to a day after injury and signifies deeper tissue damage.
- Third degree frostbite describes skin that has been damaged though all its layers and tissue that turns black and hard as it dies.
- Fourth degree frostbite occurs when bone and tendon freeze.
If you suspect frostbite, get out of the cold immediately and slowly warm the affected area — but don’t rub it since that can damage your skin. If numbness continues, seek emergency care.
Hypothermia is abnormally low body temperature, and is defined as a body temperature less than 95 F (35 C). When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Exercising in cold, rainy weather increases the risk of hypothermia, as does being an older adult. The colder the body gets, the more confused the person gets, and decision-making begins to suffer. Instead of coming out of the cold, apathy sets in and the patient may become delirious.
What are the symptoms of hypothermia?
Symptoms of hypothermia include:
- Initial hunger and nausea will give way to apathy as the core body temperature drops.
- This is followed by confusion, lethargy, slurred speech, loss of consciousness, and coma.
- Often the affected person will lie down, fall asleep, and die. In some cases, the patient will paradoxically remove their clothes just before this occurs.
Seek emergency help right away if you suspect hypothermia.
Chances are, if you are careful you should be fine. Always be aware of what your body is telling you, and don’t overdo it. Stay warm, stay safe, stay fit my friends!