shutterstock_746922310_NZBD1LW.jpeg (shutterstock_746922310.webp)As the last month of fall begins, the temperature continues to drop. Those who enjoy an outdoor run every morning might find it hard to continue their routine as the weather gets colder. Even if you love the cold, exercising in cold weather affects your body and puts you at higher risk for injuries and health problems.

When you exercise in the cold, it won’t feel like your summer or early fall workouts did. The cold weather makes your heart work harder to pump blood, your muscles tighten, and your body gets fatigued and dehydrated much quicker. But, don’t worry, we have outlined 5 tips to help you keep up your fitness routine as fall comes to an end.

  1. Dress For The Weather

    When dressing for a cold-weather workout, you want to make sure that you are layering up. When you wear layers, you can trap warm air next to your body and keep out the elements. For example, start with a thin layer, then add a second layer like a fleece, then, if it’s really cold, throw on a third layer like a waterproof jacket.

    Further, there is more that goes into it than just dressing warm, you also need to dress dry. You want to protect yourself from the elements - rain, snow, or even your own sweat. The easiest way to lose body heat is to get wet. When you get wet in the cold, you’re left not only freezing and inclined to end your workout early, but you’re also at risk for hypothermia. So, instead of wearing athletic clothes made from cotton, opt for synthetic materials like polyester and nylon.

    Finally, try to wear bright colors. Whether you’re working out in the early morning or in the evening after work, odds are it will be dark outside. As the weather gets colder, daylight dims earlier. If you are wearing bright or reflective clothing, drivers, bikers, and more will be able to see you, helping you to avoid any collisions.

  2. Cover Your Extremities

    Don’t forget the other parts of your body when getting dressed for your workout. Your fingers, ears, nose, and toes will be the first things to feel the harsh weather. Try wearing a headband, earmuffs, gloves, thick socks, etc. And remember to keep in mind the material of these accessories. Aim for wool or synthetic so you are protected from sweat on your skin.

    You may not think of your shoes as being a factor, but most running shoes are made to keep heat out, so in lower temperatures, the cold will come right through. You can search for shoe covers or visit a store to find running shoes made for cold weather conditions.

  3. Warm-Up

    After you’ve taken steps to warm up your body, remember to warm up your muscles with exercise. A warm-up is mandatory before any exercise, but in cold weather, it’s especially important. Dynamic stretches and warm-ups increase blood flow and decrease the risk for injuries.

    The type of dynamic stretches you do should be low-intensity movements that mimic the workout you will be doing. Some bodyweight squats and lunges, arm swings, leg swings, and more are good examples of dynamic stretches or warm-ups. Don’t confuse static stretching for an efficient warm-up, as these should be saved for after your workout.

  4. Un-dress For The Weather

    There actually is such a thing as being too warm when working out in cold weather. While you definitely want to be dressing warm and layering up, you actually need to remember to take off some of those layers as well. If you wear too many layers and forget to take them off as your body warms, you can put yourself at higher risk for problems.

    When you are really sweaty underneath a lot of clothes in cold temperatures, you’re inviting the risk of many things like frostbite and dehydration to pay you a visit. Your exercise intensity level will determine how many layers you need. Take note of how your body is feeling as you go through your workout and remove layers accordingly.

  5. Drink Water

    You may not feel as thirsty working out in cold weather as you do on a hot summer day, but you still need to be drinking water and staying hydrated. You will be losing fluids as you exercise, so it’s important to replenish them. Sip on some water during your workout and switch to Gatorade towards the end if you’re exercising for a long time. Remember not to overdo it, as your body can only absorb so much water at once.

Even though warm weather is leaving and the darker, colder months are ahead, you don’t have to sacrifice your fitness routine. As long as you take proper precautions, you can enjoy an outdoor workout any time of the year. If you need assistance in your exercise regimen, Connected Health offers fitness programs with personal training, injury prevention, and more.

Connected Health in Wexford, Pennsylvania is a concierge primary medicine practice that believes strongly in putting the focus back on the patient. We offer a variety of services ranging from primary care to fitness programs. If you’d like to schedule a consultation, learn more about our care services, or want to explore your membership options, give us a call at (724) 933-4300. You can also book an appointment online!