While the weather outside is turning frightful… workouts at the club are so delightful…. So don’t let the falling temperatures outside stop you from getting your workout in and staying fit as we head into the holiday season.
Almost everyone can work out safely in cold weather and let’s be honest it doesn’t get that cold here in sunny California. Just be sure to suit up to minimize the cold-weather risks. And while high intensity workouts like cardio strength, cycle and running may be better choices for staying warm than say yoga or Barre, no matter what type of workout you are doing, your body will always work to maintain a core temp of 98.6 degrees.
I was lucky enough to be in Chicago recently and was set on running the Lake shore. It was 64 degrees with a 70% chance of rain. Mind you I love running in the rain, so I wasn’t at all worried about getting wet. Mid run it felt like someone turned on a hose and buckets of water came pouring down. I was drenched and by the time I returned the temperature had dropped to 46 degrees. It was cold but I was still smiling because I had started out prepared to get wet.
Exercising outdoors when the temperatures drop comes with its own annoyances. You know that runny nose you get is a good sign. The inside of the nose moistens to humidify the air we inhale, and the excess fluids creep out our nostrils. As for the icy air? It’s basically impossible for cold air to do damage to your lungs. Actually, cold weather can be invigorating, cranking up your energy and decreasing your tension and depression levels. It sure does make me feel alive and there’s a biological reason for that:
"All exercise can increase your levels of those feel-good hormones, endorphins," says Kevin Plancher, M.D., head of Plancher Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in New York City. "But because your body has to work harder in the cold, your endorphin production is boosted even more, leading to a happier state of mind."
Plus, exposure to natural light is a known depression fighter. The sunlight can improve your mood and help with Vitamin D intake, according to the American Heart Association. Winter exercise also boosts immunity during cold and flu season. A few minutes a day can help prevent simple bacterial and viral infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And who doesn’t want that right now.
You’re still fighting the idea of cold weather workouts because you’re shivering? How about this… shivering is a mechanism the body uses to produce heat and it also burns a significant amount of calories. Studies have shown that people expend five times more energy when shivering than when resting.
There are so many benefits to exercising in the cold, here are a few tips to make it enjoyable for you:
Dress in layers…. The first layer should be synthetic, something to with moisture away from the skin. The second layer should be fleece or wool to help insulate. And the third should be a breathable, waterproof layer to help repel wind. Avoid Cotton!! It absorbs sweat making it heavy and you cold.
Cover your head, fingers and toes… blood flow stays concentrated in the core making our limbs susceptible to the cold. Wearing gloves, thermal socks and a hat will help keep your entire body warm.
Strip as you go… the body will warm up once you get moving especially in higher intensity activities. Overdressing can lead to excess sweating so be sure to strip those layers as you go. Damp clothing and skin will cause major heat loss and lower your body temperature, increasing the risk of hypothermia.
Drink up… you may not see your sweat loss in the cold like you do in the summer. Most people will give little thought to staying hydrated. But you can still sweat just as much so be sure to drink up as your moving.
Bring a dry jacket or change of clothes… when the workout is over you do not want to be stuck in wet, sweaty clothes when it’s 45 degrees outside. Having something dry and warm to put on will make the ride home more comfortable.
Respecting the cold weather just like you would the extreme summer heat is all it takes to make you a successful winter weather workout warrior.
Come prepared with the right clothing and hydration and stay fit this holiday season.