Up North, a lot of people talk about putting on a “winter layer” of weight. It’s a lighthearted way of saying we all have a tendency to put on extra fat when we can’t enjoy the outdoors as freely as we did during warmer months. Additionally, this is the time of year when holiday menus roll around and we start ditching our diet discipline. We get a little heavy and then we work it off when the weather turns warm again. Luckily we have some guidance on cold weather workouts to help key you in on staying fit.
So what can you do to keep your workout routine rolling steady despite a drop in temperatures? Modify, modify, modify. Love running outdoors? Hit the treadmill. Or, better yet, hit the stationary bike for an alternate, low-impact cardio workout. You can keep that outdoor spirit alive with a number of TV road scenes that link up to your bike to give you the feeling of an outdoor ride. Love to swim? Make a shift to Pilates, where you’ll engage similar muscles with or without weight resistance while keeping the flexibility in your shoulders and legs. When you return to the pool, you may even find that your abs and back are stronger, allowing you to maintain a more fluid, streamlined position in the water.
Your other option for modification is to keep going outdoors in pursuit of winter activities like downhill or cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, hiking, climbing or skating. The biggest change you’ll have to make with these activities is proper gear and more presence of mind to how your body is responding to conditions. In the summer, fatigue is often most noticeable as body temperature rises. We get sweaty, and we take a break. In the winter, we don’t sweat as noticeably and when we do, it’s is absorbed by the layers of close-fitting clothing we are wearing. So, dehydration is a real risk of working out in cooler temps. Make sure to take routine breaks for water and rest. As well, make sure to bundle up extremities like fingers in toes in warmer-than-usual apparel with wool, cotton or fleece. As temperatures drop the body draws warm blood closer to the body’s core. This is exaggerated further during exercise when the heart and lungs have a higher-than-normal oxygen demand. Fingers and toes left in cold temperatures too long can be at risk for frostbite… So just pay attention to things like tingling, loss of feeling, numbness or pain if you decide to take your workout out in the frosty air.