How to Exercise safely in cold weather

Exercising outside is fresh and fun, but during winter the cold temperatures can make exercising outdoors less appealing, uncomfortable and in extreme conditions – dangerous.

Don’t get stuck indoors, sensible preparation is all you need to keep warm and active through the winter months.  Follow these simple steps to protect yourself from the cold and exercising in nature’s playground can be fun all year round!

DRESS IN LAYERS: Wearing layers of clothing allows you to adjust your insulation by adding or removing items as your body temperature heats up and cools down during exercise.  The correct clothing can act as an insulator, helping to trap air and keep heat from dissipating away from the body.

Consider wearing a base layer close to the skin to wick away perspiration, a mid layer for warmth and an outer layer for wind & water resistance.

BASE LAYER: Moisture tends to conduct heat so it is best to avoid heavy cotton fabrics which trap moisture and increase heat lost through exercise.  To avoid a build up of perspiration when exercising in the cold and therefore heat loss, it is advisable to wear a tight fitting base layer made from materials such as silk, polyester, wool or polypropylene.

MID LAYER:  Mid layers lay close to the base layer and also carry moisture away, providing extra insulation.  The Mid layer is often worn slightly looser than the base and made of fleece, wool, and polyester or down.

SURFACE LAYER: This is where the moisture escapes.  The surface layer also protects you from wind, rain and snow and is made from wind and waterproof materials such as Gore Tex.  The surface layer may also have a hood / head cover and many new jackets also provide a mid and outer layer in one.

If little one is joining your exercise session, dress them in two more layers than you, you may work up a sweat but baby is just taking in the views! If you use a blanket to cover the buggy, that counts as one layer.

HANDS & FEET: When temperatures drop low, the body reacts by re-directing the flow of blood from the extremities to warm and protect the internal organs at the core of the body.  Blood flow will not return to the feet if the torso is not warm enough.  During exercise your hands & feet can also produce moisture through perspiration, so it is important to wear gloves & socks made from wool, polypropylene or other fabrics that wick the moisture away and for the hands, protect from the wind.  Wear well fitting trainers too and if you are taking your baby and Buggy out with you – check the tyres on your buggy for the conditions.

ON YOUR HEAD: Heat loss from the head alone can be as much as 50% of the total heat being lost from the body during exercise outside in the cold.  Simply wearing a hat can make all the difference to keeping warm in the winter.  Go for wool to wick away any moisture produced by the head during exercise.

STAY DRY: Any wet clothing will significantly increase loss of heat from the body, so stay as dry as possible.  Take a rain cover for the Buggy if baby is joining you!

BREATHE EASY: When the air is cold, it really gets you in the throat doesn’t it?  To warm the air before you breathe in, wear a balaclava or scarf over your mouth – particularly important if you suffer from upper respiratory infections.

KEEP FLUIDS UP: Drinking water is as important in cold conditions as it is in hot, so stay well hydrated when exercising in the winter.  Drinks with caffeine or alcohol in have a dehydrating effect so steer clear.  Alcohol in particular dilates blood vessels and increases heat loss.

SO REMEMBER:

  • Dress in Layers
  • Keep your head, hands and feet warm
  • Stay Dry
  • Warm the air you Breath
  • Keep Well Hydrated
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