Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Training Tuesday: Exercise and Cold Weather

I haven't blogged a "Training Tuesday" post in awhile, so I thought I would add it back in the mix.

I recently read an article by the Mayo Clinic about tips to stay safe while exercising outdoors.  I am not big on running indoors on a treadmill or working out on the elliptical.  I like to view the scenery and experience the benefits of exercising outdoors, but I also cringe when the cold weather comes along.  I can always make an excuse to not work out when the temperature drops below 50 or the winds become gustier.  This article offers a few good tips to stay warm and safe while exercising in cold weather.

Dress in Layers
One of the biggest mistakes one can make while exercising in cold weather is to dress too warm.  When you exercise, you produce a considerable amount of heat; however, when your sweat starts to dry, you can get chilled.  The solution is to dress in layers.  You can remove the heaviest layer when you start to really sweat, and then put it back on as needed.  A good layer combination would be like an Under Armor shirt made of a polypropylene material as the bottom layer, and a fleece pull-over as the outer layer.

Protect your Hands, Feet and Ears
When it's cold, blood flow is concentrated on your body's core, and leaves your hands and feet vulnerable.  Be sure to wear a thin pair of gloves to protect your fingers, but take them off when you start to sweat.  Thermal socks or an extra pair of regular socks also help to keep your feet from getting too cold.  I always wear a head band or hat when the weather gets colder to protect my ears, as they are very sensitive to the cold and wind.

Pay Attention to Weather Conditions and Wind Chill
Cold and rainy weather can make you more vulnerable when exercising outdoors.  If you get soaked, you may not be able to keep your core body temperature high enough, and layered clothing won't help if they are wet.  Wind chill extremes can make exercising outdoors unsafe even if you dress warmly.  Take time to check the current weather conditions before heading outdoors for a work out.

Choose Appropriate Gear
If you plan to exercise outdoors at dusk or in the dark, please be sure to wear reflective clothing so you can be seen by moving vehicles.  To stay steady on your feet if it's icy or snowy, choose footwear with enough traction to prevent falls.  Also, consider chemical heat packs to keep your hands warm.

Remember Sunscreen
Yes, you can get sunburned in the winter.  Be sure to wear a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays, and at least has 30 SPF.  A lip balm that contains sunscreen can also be helpful.

Head Into the Wind
If possible, do the second half of your workout with the wind to your back.  You are less likely to get chilled, especially if you've worked up a sweat.

Drink Plenty of Fluids
Stay well hydrated, just as you would exercising in warm weather.  You can become just as dehydrated in the cold as in the heat from sweating, breathing; however, it may be harder to notice during cold weather.

Luckily, Charleston experiences a very mild winter.  We do receive some rare cold weather from time to time, but most of the year we can count on warmth.  It is always nice to have a few tips though to help stay safe during those few cold spells here in the South!

(All information was gathered from the referenced online article by the Mayo Clinic.)


Samantha said...

As a new-ish runner, I totally appreciate this post! I used to run in high school and feel like i've forgotten all the basics! Thanks for the reminder!! :)


bailey j said...

Awesome post. I love to run but I hate doing it inside - just CANNOT get in the zone. so I've been running in the fierce Canadian (-20 degrees celsius AHH!) winter weather a bit. It can be a little gruesome but I still think its better! Plus its good motivation to run hard and get home aha.

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