I’ve noticed in the past week that the weather seems to be at single digits in the morning, prompting a lot of pain in my old joints and signalling that the warmer, summer months are gone for another year. With that comes the need to recognize that one’s fitness routine may be altered or NEED to be altered in order to accommodate the colder weather. We all know what’s coming next…. That wonderful white stuff that makes getting to work ion the morning an absolute nightmare.
But we aren’t going to talk about THAT, since we still have time before it starts hitting the ground. Hopefully. Today, we’re simply going to talk about colder weather as it pertains to fitness. For the most part, our brains tend to tell us that comfier and easier is better. This means that when we notice cold winds or a drop in temperature, we may be less inclined to step outside to do something physical. But there’s some inherently good and bad aspects to working out in the cold.
On the positive side, doing something physical outdoors will help with blood circulation, will wake you up better than a cup of coffee and will leave you feeling even cozier once you DO decide to hit the couch with a blanket and a warm cup of joe. Working out in colder temperatures can improve your mood and provide a somewhat different challenge than working out in the warmer weather.
For me, I’m slowly falling into the season where cycling for long distances is becoming less-favoured as a form of working out. Besides being cold, the colder wind whipping my face while cycling is a definitely no for me. I prefer to work up a sweat than try and defrost myself, so I look to different workouts, such as punching bag workouts or karate in my garage. I’m still outdoors, but without the Prairie winds taking advantage of my award-winning face. Kidding.
There are definitely some things to keep in mind, when stepping outside in cold weather. The first, is that you WANT to feel cold. Don’t believe me? The problem is that if you step outside feeling warm and comfortable, you need to understand that once you start exercising, your body heat will cause an increased amount of sweating, which is a recipe for disaster when you’re outside. Dress appropriately with a layer of moisture-wicking material first, and something insulating and breathable over that. This prevent the sweat from staying wet against your body.
When you sweat, your body inevitably loses heat through the evaporation of that sweat, which can leave you susceptible to being chilled. So, if you start off feeling cold but start working out, your body will take care of itself. The other side of the coin is to know what you’re personal and preferred limits are, and stick with them. Cold is cold, but only you will know what’s TOO cold for you. Is there a weather warning in effect? Maybe work out inside on that day.
Lastly, people tend to ignore a lot of the important steps when training outside, like applying sunblock to your exposed skin if it’s sunny and staying properly hydrated. The cold doesn’t protect you from UV rays and you’ll dehydrate just as easily in the cold. In some cases, easier. Not least of which is the fact that cold weather can have adverse effects on underlying health conditions, like asthma and Diabetes. Although subjective to the person, blood sugars will vary from prolonged exposure to the cold.
Keep an eye on yourself for warning signs of frostbite or hypothermia. Drink plenty of fluids and monitor your blood sugars frequently. And remember that if you FEEL it’s too cold, there’s no shame in moving your workout to the indoors. After all, winter is coming…. ☯️