As we start experiencing the chilly weather of winter or the hot weather of summer, you'll need to change your exercise routine to match—especially if you're fond of outdoor workouts. Monitoring the seasonal changes is essential to building healthy habits and maintaining your fitness level.
For more information about how to stay healthy throughout the year, call our team of physical therapists and personal trainers at David L. Curtis, PT, located in Westport, CT at (203) 247 2143.
Do a Warm Up First
Dynamic warm-ups get the blood pumping to your muscles and reduce the risk of injury when exercising in the cold. Depending on your exercise routine, you need to stretch out the muscles you focus on. For runners, warming up might include bodyweight lunges, squats, arm swings, and core exercises.
Try not to confuse warming up with static stretches, though. You need to keep moving to increase your heart rate.
Some people feel less thirsty when working out in cooler weather than hotter weather, but drinking water while working out in chilly temperatures is essential. Your body tends to absorb more liquid while exercising.
However, you should also be sure to stay hydrated in the heat too. The hot weather stresses your body out a lot. Both air temperature and humidity increase your core temperature. If possible, limit your exposure to the elements, but always bring water with you when exercising outdoors.
Dehydration is a major factor for heat illnesses and can even require medical attention. When you exercise, your body sends more blood through your body's surface to keep you cool. This leaves less blood for your muscles and increases your heart rate, so staying hydrated is key to an effective, healthy workout.
Avoid alcoholic drinks if you're exercising regularly because they actually reduce blood circulation and cause dehydration to occur faster.
Remove Layers as You Heat Up
When you feel your core body temperature dropping, it's time to start layering. Regardless of your exercise intensity, you need to stay warm during your entire workout.
High temperatures increase your blood flow and help you stay active without hurting yourself. The cold air is harder to breathe since your body needs to heat it up before extracting the oxygen.
However, being too hot is a risk, even in cooler temperatures. As you start to sweat from your outdoor exercise, you need to monitor your body for signs of overheating. Retaining too much heat can cause heat cramps, dizziness, fatigue, and other symptoms.
Check Your Traction
Winter workouts can get slippery very quickly when snow or rain is involved. Slipping on an icy road can lead to injuries such as brain damage. Try to ensure that you always stay in plowed and salted areas, especially if your workout takes you into the streets. If possible, avoid working out while it is actively raining or snowing.
Staying off of the main roads is often a good idea, but back roads can pose hidden threats from snow or rain. You can avoid some of these by using ice spikes on your shoes to create more traction and prevent slips.
If biking is part of your exercise routine, map out your route beforehand and choose well-maintained roads. Roads in residential areas are usually ideal because the city quickly plows and salts them after a storm. They're also typically in better shape than less frequented roads, so you can avoid road hazards like potholes during your ride.
Protect Your Skin
Even when it's cloudy, the sun's UV rays can damage your skin. When it snows, your skin absorbs even more UV rays. Always remember to wear sunscreen and reapply it as needed.
A Skin Cancer Foundation study found that sunlight exposure can increase 4 to 5% per 10,000 feet of elevation. If you're heading to the mountains, be extra cautious.
Don't Forget to Cool Down
Warming up before you exercise is vital, but it is just as essential to remember your cooldowns at the end.
A cool down is similar to a warm-up— you perform lighter movements than during your normal routine. This allows your heart and muscles to slow down and work out the lactic acid produced from exercise to avoid soreness the next day.
If you have spent most of your workout doing cardio, switching to strength training as you wrap up your workout can help you make the most of your time. A personal trainer can craft a custom plan for cooling down your body, which may involve gentle stretches and using ice packs to soothe sore muscles.
Improve Your Cold Weather Workouts
To stay in shape in heat or cold weather, contact our team of physical therapists at David L. Curtis, PT, located in Westport, CT at (203) 247 2143 for a consultation. We'll help you live your healthiest life!
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