When winter rolls around, most athletes hibernate in the gym until spring. If you're smart about your training, however, you can enjoy the benefits of outdoor workouts all year long. Below is a recap of winter training tips we've covered in the past, along with advice on what to do if things start going wrong.
Preparing for the Outdoors
Hit the slopes or pound the pavement for your outdoor workout after taking the following steps:
- Warm Up
Before getting bundled up, it's important to warm up your muscles. A 10- to 15-minute dynamic warm-up or yoga session will get your blood pumping and core temperature up. Don't try to warm up with hot coffee or tea, because they contain stimulants that can constrict blood vessels and cause hypothermia to set in earlier. Instead, stick to sports drinks to stay hydrated when you perspire.
- Bundle Up
When working out, wear clothing that protects your skin from cold, wind and moisture. For your inner layers, trade in your cotton tees for lightweight polyester fabrics that wick moisture away from your body. Unlike cotton, which sticks to the skin when moist, polyester allows the skin to stay dry and warm. After putting on your first layer, bundle up with performance fleece and weather-resistant outerwear. Finally, don't forget hats, gloves and scarves, even if you think they'll make you too hot.
Listen to Your Body
What happens when you you're forced to stay out in the cold longer than you expected? What if the temperature is lower than you thought? Although preparation is crucial to training in the cold, listening to your body is even more important. Since sweating lowers the core body temperature, long workouts in the cold can put athletes at risk for hypothermia if they ignore warning signs.
- Signs of Hypothermia
When training in the winter, constantly evaluate yourself for signs of hypothermia, and get indoors when things start to get dangerous. Classic signs of hypothermia include skin that feels cold to the touch, slow reflexes and shallow breathing. Move indoors if you start shivering uncontrollably, and seek help immediately if you start to feel clumsy, weak or disoriented.
- Get Warm
If you notice any signs of hypothermia, seek indoor shelter immediately and medical attention as soon as possible. Drink something warm, not hot. Remove all wet clothing to prevent your body from cooling any further. Focus on heating up the center of your body with an electric blanket or layers of dry, loose clothing. Note that the University of Maryland Medical Center advises against rubbing your arms and legs since it can cause blood clotting. If you are in a remote outdoor location, sit with your knees close to your chest to keep your core warm. If possible, share body heat with a workout partner until help arrives.
If you prepare correctly and remain alert through your workout, there's no reason why you can't exercise outdoors well into the winter months. Have a favorite outdoor winter workout? Share it with us through Facebook.
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