If you live in a part of the country where the temperatures drop and snow sticks around for about four to five months, daily exercise can be a challenge, particularly if you have an outdoor walking routine or you simply prefer the outdoors to indoors. Although millions of fitness minded folks move their exercise routine indoors for the winter, here are some tips for exercising outdoors:
Check the Forecast
Before you head out for a run, walk, or even a winter sport like cross country skiing or snowshoeing, it’s important to take a look at the forecast. Three crucial things to factor include the temperature, moisture, and wind. If, for instance, it’s around 30 degrees (Fahrenheit), the temperature is fairly agreeable for outdoor exercise, but add in moisture and/or wind and it can be difficult and even dangerous, increasing your risk of cold-weather related issues like frostbite or hypothermia. Pay attention to the weather app on your phone or listen to your weather forecaster. If he or she says it’s too dangerous to be outside, take the advice and workout indoors, where you can stay warm and dry.
Your comfort and safety, when exercising outdoors, relies heavily on the wearing appropriate layers. When you wear layers, you are insulating yourself against the elements and preventing getting too hot or too cold. When selecting your layers, the first one should be a lightweight synthetic or polyester material that dries quickly and wicks away sweat. The second should consist of wool or polyester fleece and the final layer, which will be exposed to any type of element, should be water-repellent and lightweight. Your clothes should fit well, allowing you to move comfortably and with ease. Never forget a hat, as it helps your body retain essential heat and gloves and a scarf/neck gaiter can be easily removed as your body warms.
Size Up on Shoes
When selecting appropriate footwear, keep in mind that a heavier shoe/boot may make exercising more difficult and may even put you at risk for injury. If you choose to wear a shoe specific for exercise, make sure it has adequate support, good tread, and consider purchasing a pair that are slightly larger to make room for extra thick socks.
Know Your Limit
As you would (and should) with any exercise, whether indoors or outdoors, it’s important to know your limit. While it’s encouraged to challenge and push yourself, there’s a fine line between working hard and overworking oneself. Listen to your body and take a break when you need one. Don’t forget to hydrate, too. While you’re less likely to feel the need to drink water when the temperatures are cooler, proper hydration is always essential.
Your health and safety should always come first, so if that means you must move your workout indoors for a couple of weeks or even a month, be flexible and do it. If you don’t like the idea of going to the gym, consider taking a dance class with a friend, try out an indoor climbing wall, or even take a few laps around the mall.