Working Out in the Cold? Go For It (safely)!

Hello Loyal Soup People! Since the weather is finally cooling down, I’d like to discuss exercising outdoors. The good news (or bad news for people looking for excuses to take breaks for working out!), is that it’s never too cold to exercise. As long as you take proper precautions, you can exercise outdoors all winter long. Ignore that urban myth that freezing air can freeze our lungs – it is simply not true.

All year long, our bodies work to maintain a temperature of 98.6. In the summer, we sweat to cool down, and in the winter, we shiver and our noses run – all signs of our bodies working to keep us warm.

When exercising outside, it is important to dress wisely to stay safe and give your body a hand when it’s working to stay warm:

– Wear layers. The first layer should draw away sweat from the body,  so it should be something synthetic. Avoid cotton which simply turns cold when wet (i.e. when you sweat) and can actually cause hypothermia! The second layer should be a fleece to insulate you. The last layer should be waterproof. Layers are essential because you can remove them as you warm up. If you overdress, you’ll sweat excessively and could become dehydrated. Excessive sweating can also lead to hypothermia! Remember, when you first start exercising outside, you should feel cold. As a rule of thumb, if running, dress for the second mile, not the first. By then, you’ll be warmed up.

– Pay attention to your extremities. Our bodies concentrate our warmth and blood flow in our core, leaving our heads, fingers, and toes susceptible to cold. Wear gloves, extra socks, and hats to protect your extremities.

– Stay hydrated. The air is dry and we might not sweat quite as much in the winter, leading us to ignore traditional signs of dehydration. Always carry water with you and drink before and after exercising.

As a general rule, be smart! If it is pouring rain or icy, choose the gym or workout at home. It is very difficult for our bodies to keep us warm when we are soaked in cold rain. Look for signs of hypothermia. If you start losing feeling or have tingling in your extremities, head home immediately. Don’t, however, use the cold weather as an excuse to become a sloth! There is nothing quite as invigorating as a brisk nature walk in the winter. Give it a try!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!