It’s finally, really and truly Fall! (Until we get a couple more 75 degree days…but anyway.) As it starts getting colder, it’s tempting to work out only indoors or stop working out altogether. Don’t let a little cold stop you!
We’ve got a few tips on what to do and what to wear if you’ll be working out in the elements. When you take the weather into account when you exercise outside, you can continue your training no matter what Mother Nature decides to do!
- Dress for 15 to 20 degrees above the actual temperature. You’ll be generating your own heat once you get going.
- Stay hydrated. This will help you regulate your temperature. Drink 17-20 ounces of water about two hours before beginning. Every 10-20 minutes during exercise, drink 7-10 ounces. After exercising, drink 16-24 ounces for every pound of body weight lost. (Some people do better with more or less fluid in their stomach while running. If you can feel or hear it sloshing, it’s probably too much! Test out what works for you.)
- Check the weather. This seems like a total no-brainer, but it doesn’t just mean the temperature. As the temperatures drop, find out if there is a windchill. Sunscreen a good idea no matter the season or weather, but you may need a visor or glasses if it’s particularly sunny. And remember, there’s a huge difference between being caught in a possible rain shower when it’s 75 degrees and feeling those drops start to fall when it’s 50.
Baby, it’s Cold Outside
Exercising in the cold without proper preparation can lead to a generalized vasoconstriction effect (which can be dangerous for people with high blood pressure or heart disease) or even hypothermia. And anyone can become chilled quickly when the body is wet from sweat and/or conditions are windy.
- You’ve heard it before – layers! This helps you create a “pocket” of body heat that will keep you warm while allowing heat and sweat to escape. Wear several layers so you can outer layers as you get warm and replace them while you cool down and stretch.
- Ensure adequate evaporation of sweat, since wet clothing speeds up heat loss. Choose wicking fabrics for inner layers and make sure outer layers can breathe or have “pit-zips” and flaps that will allow for needed ventilation.
- Cover extremities. Gloves (mittens are even warmer), ear bands, hats, etc. are your cold weather friends, especially during the beginning of your workout. And they can be removed easily and stored in a pocket or waistband if you get too warm. Long-sleeve tops with thumb holes in the hem of the sleeves are also great for keeping your hands warm until you get going!
- Select clothing made from materials that allow your body to give off heat when you’re moving and retain heat when you rest. Wool is an old standby, but is still a good choice depending on what you are doing since it maintains body heat even when it is wet. Cotton is a bad idea in the cold because it absorbs sweat and will stay wet and cold. Synthetic wicking materials work well, and nylon is good for outer layers to block wind. Outer layers with Gore-Tex can be good when it’s windy and wet.
- If it’s windy, try to start out going into the wind and finish with the wind at your back. This will help keep your core warmer once you are sweating.
- Don’t forget to drink! You may sweat less when it’s cold, but you can still become dehydrated. Cold air tends to be drier, so your body has to work hard to humidify it as you breathe it in. Drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated and refer to the info in the General Tips above on how much to drink when exercising.
- Be sure to warm-up well. Do some jumping jacks, high-knee marching or a little dynamic stretching to get your blood flowing and your muscles warmed up. This will help you feel better during your workout and prevent injury to cold-stiffened muscles.
- Take it slow(er). Your performance level can be affected when the temperature drops below 40 degrees because joints can feel stiffer and muscles can be harder to warm up. So don’t worry if you are a bit slower or feeling a little less peppy than usual.
Now get out there and stay warm!