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Five Tips to Maintain Your Outdoor Fitness Routine in Winter

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The colder weather has officially arrived and for outdoor workouts, that means making a few adjustments. If you don’t enjoy hitting the treadmill but also don’t like working out in cold weather, we have some tips to help you maintain your outdoor fitness routine.

April Harris Swales, Cooper Fitness Center professional fitness trainer, understands when it comes to a workout dilemma between the treadmill or freezing temperatures. April definitely prefers taking a walk outside, so here are her top five tips to staying safe and keeping your outdoor routine pleasant.

1. Hydration
Always remember to stay hydrated! Oftentimes we don’t think about drinking plenty of water before, after and during winter workouts. Although it is extremely important to keep hydrated during the summer, it’s equally important during the winter. If you wait until you’re thirsty, that means you are already dehydrated. Drink plenty of water before your workout. Keeping hydrated also helps with dry skin that many people experience during the winter months. Steer clear from consuming too many sports drinks unless you are exercising for a sustained amount of time.

2. Layering
If you didn’t know already, there is a proper way to layer your clothing when going for a cold, outdoor run or walk. Make sure your first, or bottom layer is a moisture wicking, synthetic material that draws sweat away from your body. Cotton should be avoided as it holds sweat to your skin which can keep you cold and possibly cause chills. The second layer should be a fleece material for insulating and keeping your body warm. The third and final layer, which is the top layer, needs to be wind or water proof.

Don’t forget to protect your ears and hands. When you run or walk outside, your body heat is directed towards your core leaving your extremities colder. Always use a head wrap or ear muffs and gloves.

3. Warm-up
Colder weather equals tighter muscles and joints. It’s easy to pull a muscle when you’re exercising in wintry temperatures. Before your workout, practice dynamic movement stretches to get your blood flowing and body warmed up. Try bringing your knees up to your chest, doing walking lunges or taking a brisk lap before you begin.

Do you experience side pains during colder weather when you exercise? Try wearing a face mask. It helps warm the air before it reaches your lungs, which might lessen the chance of side pains.

4. Shoes
Whether you live in a blizzard-prone climate or a town that only sees patches of ice on a rare occasion, it’s important your shoes have safe traction. Try using a trail shoe during the winter. This doesn’t mean a heavy, hiking shoe. New Balance offers trail/running shoes that are light-weight and have great traction for slippery floors.

5. Mix it up
As much as you might despise hopping on the treadmill, try to mix up your exercise routine at least once a week. Our body will always work harder in extreme temperatures and giving it a break every now and then is a good idea. Try an indoor class or strength training in an indoor setting. It’s also a great idea to practice a less strenuous workout one day a week to give your body a break. You’ll feel better in general and your muscles will appreciate it!

No matter what the temperature—especially in chilly weather—always listen to your body. Hopefully these tips will help you enjoy your outdoor workouts this season!

For more information about Cooper Fitness Center, click here or call 972.233.4832.