Baby it’s Cold Outside
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Blame it on shorter days, blame it on light deprivation, now you may want to blame it on the government, but that’s your call. Wherever you see fit to lay the fault, people statistically tend to reduce their working out by a large margin in the winter months. The exception being only those ill-fated New Years resolutions that have gym memberships spiking right after the holidays, then dwindle after we shake the confetti from our hair.
The fact is the winter months offer some wonderful, health-promoting opportunities for working out in addition to creating a beautiful landscape for it. Think about those endless hours of our youth spent playing in the snow. Those snowball fights and snowdrift jumping were not only endorphin-releasing, but movements that were dripping with plyometric, velocity encouraging and cardio vascular activities. Guess what? Those were all the caloric-burning exercises we did as kids that we found fun and unbeknown to us, kept our metabolism clicking away like a New York City cab meter.
Keeping those memories in mind, we turn to the vast activities that translate well from indoors to outdoors during the winter months, provided that the proper preparation is present. Assuming the climate is compatible to it, walking, running and biking will always be mainstays with the investment of warm insulating clothing, staying hydrated and the proper warm up.
Invest in warm gear
Dressing in layers with cotton, wool or any other breathable material is highly preferred, as this will keep the moisture away from the body. Wear a hat to seal in the body’s natural insulation, gloves, as well as sunscreen and moisturizers to create a barrier between the elements and your exposed skin.
Rehydrate the same as you would during the warmer months. A common and costly misconception is that because you don’t sweat as much, your need to drink water is naturally cut in half. In reality, you need to rehydrate at the same level as you normally would in the warmer months even though you will not necessarily feel as thirsty.
Don’t forget to warm-up
Make sure that you are properly warmed up as the colder climate will promote more muscle shortening and restriction, thus leaving your muscles more vulnerable to any insult or injury.
As with anything that goes on within the parameters of a workout session, your best bet is to keep it interesting and diverse and I promise you that you’ll find these activities enjoyable, as well as beneficial. As snow provides a “natural resistance” to our normal activities, by simply walking, running and sled pulling, it provides a simple yet beneficial addition to any outdoor winter workout. (For a more challenging walk, you can always add extra effort by wearing snowshoes, which does make quite a difference!)
On a personal note, I think that snow shoveling (when done correctly and with good form) is probably the most complete and potent workout that you can have in the outdoors. It’s the marriage of velocity and endurance that gives you everything you need in one setting.
So go ahead and give it a try! What do yo have to lose? Even if you aren’t 100% convinced that you’ll enjoy moving your workouts from indoors to outdoors during the winter months, at the very least you’ll benefit from the added exposure to sunshine, connecting with nature, and avoiding all those pesky germs conveniently found at your fave neighborhood gym.
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