We know January is a big time for fitness (that’s why we’ve been talking all about fitness-related resolutions in the app!). But as the cold weather and darker, shorter days drag on, it can be really hard to stay motivated on a workout routine, especially if the cold weather is keeping you inside.
Now, we love a good gym session here at Baby2Body and, as you can tell by the Fitness Studio, we’re also big fans of circuit workouts that you can do anywhere. While these indoor workouts are great for muscle toning and strength building, they can be a bit more limited on cardio work. Maybe you love to hit the treadmill or elliptical or stationary bike – and if that’s the case, more power to you mama! Keep at it.
However, if you get bored of running in place day in and day out – yet you still want to keep up your cardiovascular fitness – then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got our top recommendations for how to exercise effectively and safely in colder weather, so you can keep on running, walking, or biking to your heart’s content! Plus, that extra time outside time will give you much needed Vitamin D, which will make you feel that much better and is especially important in winter months when our levels of this vitamin naturally decrease.
Alright – let’s get right to it!
Baby2Body’s Top Tips For Exercising In Cold Weather
1. Protect your lungs
When we breathe cold air in through our mouth (as often the case while running), it can dry out and irritate mucous membranes in our airways, causing them to constrict and making it harder to breathe. This can, in turn, exacerbate exercise-induced asthma.
Here’s what to do: If you’re running in cold temps it will help to wear a breathable neck warmer that you can use to cover your mouth as needed to warm and humidify the air you breathe.
If you do have asthma (not just exercise-induced asthma) it’s best to avoid exercising in very cold temps as it can further irritate symptoms.
2. Dress properly
Our bodies are quite good at adapting to different temperatures. To maintain a body temp of about 37˚C (98.6˚F) our muscles rapidly contract in cold weather to stay warm (you’d call these ‘the chills’). Alternatively, our body cools off by producing sweat, which evaporates and effectively cools us. So, you want to find the balance of clothing that protects your skin from the cold, yet is also breathable enough to allow your body to naturally regulate its temperature.
Heres what to do: There’s a theory called the “onion with 3 peels” that works for cold weather exercise attire.
- Your first peel should lay close to the body and be sweat-wicking, allowing for necessary evaporation.
- The second peel is the thermal layer to provide insulation and additional warmth.
- Your third and final layer can be a windbreaker to cut back on wind chill.
3. Tend to your extremities
Whenever it’s cold out, the objective of the body is simple: protect the vital organs and direct heat towards them. Because of this, our arteries retract to reduce heat loss. As a result, our extremities (hands, feet, nose, ears) get less of that warming blood flow. If very cold exposure lasts for a long time, frostbite may occur.
Here’s what to do: Stock up on quality cold weather running accessories!
- For your hands – tech gloves will protect your fingers while still allowing easy access to your digital devices
- For your feet – merino wool will be sweat-wicking yet still warming
- For your nose – use your breathable neck warmer as needed!
- For your ears – an ear warming headband or hat that allows for air flow (so you don’t overheat) is the perfect solution
4. Build up slowly
You’ve certainly heard this a thousand times, but it’s because it’s so important: don’t skip the warm-up. A good warm-up is essential to avoid injury and have an effective workout. That’s especially true in the cold weather.
Here’s what to do: If exercising outside this winter, it’s a good idea to double the amount of time you spend warming up. Before increasing the intensity on your workout you’ll want to make sure that your body feels warm and adjusted to the temperature and that your breathing has regulated.
5. Cool down quickly
This doesn’t mean skip your cool down! But, after you’ve crushed a cold-weather workout, it’s really important to recover properly. Unlike warmer weather workouts you won’t want to hang outside for your cool down because that post-run cold sweat is not fun and not the best for you.
Here’s what to do: As soon as you’ve finished exercising, head inside, change out of your gear into something warm, dry and comfortable, and spend 5-10 minutes stretching all those muscles you just worked!
For more on how to thrive this time of year – check out this post on happiness hacks for the winter season.