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Considerations for Exercising in Winter Weather

The weather has taken a noticeable turn towards the Winter in the last few weeks and this change brings about a number of considerations for people who exercise and play sports outdoors. Although we are most likely a number weeks from seeing our coldest weather but it is still important to consider how you might need to alter your exercise and training regimes during the coming months. If you do not like treadmills and indoor exercise you need to consider how to stay safe during colder periods of weather. If you are off on a winter holiday sometime in the coming months then this blog is most certainly worth a read!

Dress In Layers

Your clothing plays a huge role in Winter outdoor exercise and can help to prevent frostbite and hypothermia. Dressing too warm can be a mistake – Exercise generates a lot of heat which can make you feel much hotter than you actually are. Once your sweat begins to dry, you can than feel a chill.

Dressing in layers allows you to remove items of clothing if you are getting to warm and prevents excessive sweating. Thin layers of synthetics like polypropylene (which can be found in base-layer sports gear), draw sweat from your body. Avoid cotton items as they stay wet next to your skin. Add a layer of insulation to the top, such as a fleece or wool. Use waterproof items where necessary too. Often leaner people will need more insulation than heavier individuals.

As weather becomes extremely cold  you should wear face masks or a scarf, in order to heat up air before in enters your lungs. Find the right combination of clothes the works well for you based on your exercise intensity. Keep in mind, too, that stop-and-go activities, such as mixed walking with running, can make you more vulnerable to the cold if you repeatedly work up a sweat and then get chilly.

Don’t Forget Your Feet, Hands and Ears

In cold weather, blood flow is concentrated on the body’s core, which leave hand and feet exposed. Gloves are a good idea for exercising in the cold as long as they do not interfere with performance (e.g. ball playing games). They are especially important when skiing and snowboarding.

Consider purchasing shoes which which are half a size larger so you can wear thicker thermal socks or even two pairs. Also keep in mind that 30-40% of body heat dissipates through the head, so always wear a hat where possible and make sure it covers your ears too!

Pick the Right Gear

As it gets dark much earlier in the Winter, always wear reflective clothing if you are jogging or cycling or roads, especially if weather conditions are adverse. Use footwear which is appropriate, in order to prevent falls if there is ice or snow on the terrain. If you are going on a Winter Sports holiday wear helmets and suitable attire. Chemical heat packs are useful for warming one’s hands.

Pay Attention to the Weather

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Exercise in the cold and rain make make you vulnerable to getting a chill. These conditions make it harder for your core body temperature to stay at the right level. Layering of clothes wont work if they become wet. So consider taking it indoors if wet conditions persist.

Wind chill is another factor for consideration as wind can penetrate clothes and remove the layer of insulation from those clothes. So like with the rain if it is a windy day consider taking exercise inside again, or taking a break.

Hydration and Nutrition

Hydration is as important in Winter as it is in Summer but as the temperatures are much lower so we tend to forget about drinking fluids. When you breath in cold air, your body is forced to warm that air and with each exhalation, you lose significant amounts of water (as it is being humidified). Therefore, during winter exercise, more fluids need to be consumed to replace the water that gets lost through respiration.

For longer workouts, it is a good idea to bring high energy snacks along. Energy bars and nut/fruit mixes can be very helpful

You can find  more information on Hydration and Nutrition by clicking here

Other Tips

Warm-ups - Do your warm up routine before leaving the house. If you are warm before you start exercising, you will stay warm for longer during your workout. This will help to prevent injury.

Route - Choose an area that is sheltered from wind. If this is not possible begin your run or walk into the wind so that it will be on your back on the way home.

If you are hitting the slopes or partaking in any Winter Sports, for further tips on avoiding Winter Sport injuries click here.

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