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Published June 26, 2013 in Exercise & Fitness
Exercising During the Freezing Cold
 
Winter Exercise TipsBy Jill Armayor for DRS Health

During the time of year when it is still dark outside when your alarm goes off and when you get home from work, and you find yourself in a mental battle every time you head outside in the freezing cold to get your cardio in, you may find it difficult to maintain your exercise routine, especially if you work out in the morning. You may find that adjusting your routine and bringing in some reinforcements may help you continue on in victory, in spite of the cold.

Here are a few tips to help you stay in shape during the cold winter months:

Evaluate your present schedule.

Are you able to take some time away from the office to go for your walk, instead of waking up at the crack of dawn or waiting until after work? With the sun shining, it will make a difference in the outdoor temperature and in how you feel as you stride down the side walk. If you must work out in the morning or evening, make sure you wear reflective gear, so that people in oncoming vehicles can see you.

Adjust your route to fit the cold conditions.

Instead of using a linear out and back route, form a loop that circles home base, with shortcuts home at regular intervals along the way. If you find that the weather is just too cold, you can cut your workout short easily. It also helps to know the direction of the wind before beginning your exercise. Try to adjust your route so that your back is to the oncoming wind during the last half of your workout. This will reduce your chances of catching a chill.

Invest in the appropriate gear for outdoor exercise.

Insulated boots with enough traction will keep your feet warm and dry and prevent you from slipping on icy patches. Dress in multiple layers to keep your body heat from escaping. Your bottom layer should be a synthetic material that can draw sweat away from your body, preventing you from getting too cold. Your next layer should be one of insulation, such as a fleece pull-over. Your top layer should be waterproof, but breathable. Ask an attendant at your local sporting goods store to help you find some cost-effective options. If you feel yourself starting to sweat, remove your top layer and tie it around your waist. Wear a hat that covers your ears and gloves to protect your hands from the cold. More layers can be added in between if it is much colder. In extreme cold weather, protect your face and your lungs with a scarf or a face mask. If it is snowing or the wind chill dips below 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit, you may want to consider exercising inside.

Have an alternate plan.

If the weather makes exercise an absolute no-go, have an alternative plan in mind. Look into prices for a gym membership at a health club or a local recreation center. Your office building may also have a small fitness facility. Record a few workout shows on T.V. or rent fitness DVDs for days when going outside is not an option and exercise before or after work.

Mix it up to stay motivated.

If staying motivated during the winter months is the problem, try these tips to continue your trek to fitness:

  • Change up your music play list.
  • Find a friend to work out with you.
  • Focus on the benefits: You are burning more calories exercising in the cold than you do in the summer, and you are strengthening your immune system against wintertime cold and flu bugs.
  • Try a new physical activity that you always wanted to do, like dance lessons or Pilates.
  • Separate your workout into intervals, instead of one long period of straight cardiovascular exercise.
  • Break up your cardiovascular exercise by choosing three different machines at 10 minutes each.
  • Invest in exergames on Wii or Xbox

Staying in shape during the winter months will not only make you stronger physically, it will also make you stronger mentally, giving you the continued mental drive to push through those workouts that are not very enjoyable.

 
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