5 Tips for Cold Weather Workouts

5 Tips for Cold Weather Workouts | Jennifer Diaz | Photo by Kelsey Cherry

I love being outside, especially when the forecast is 65 and sunny! I’ve recently been running more consistently and have really been enjoying it! I’m pretty obsessed with our neighborhood, which makes it fun to run through the streets looking at all the old and new homes, seeing all the people hanging out and playing at the park, and being amongst all of the busyness of the local shops and restaurants. Some days, it doesn’t even feel like I’m exercising because I’m so intrigued by my surroundings. However, the temperatures here in Nashville have begun to drop and I refuse to spend the next four months exercising indoors! Not to mention, if I don't take Luna on a walk or run regularly, she gets all kinds of crazy.

When it comes to exercising in cold weather, there are a few more precautions you have to take in order to make sure you have an effective and safe workout! Humans can be thought of as tropical animals. When it comes to heat, our bodies physiologically make the proper adjustment (sweating). But when it comes to adapting to cold weather elements, we rely more on our behavior (putting on more clothes). In order for our bodies to function properly, we need to keep it as close to our homeostasis (regular body temperature) as possible!

So if you plan on braving the colder temperatures, below are 5 tips that will help you stay safe and enjoy your outdoor workouts!

1. Use Common Sense.

Is it dark? Below freezing? Misting? Snowing? Make yourself aware of all the risks. If you're a runner and it has iced the night before, running outside is probably not a good idea. While that may sound obvious, I'll admit, I did this once. I was training for the Music City Marathon and "had to" get my run in. I can't even tell you how many times my running buddy and I almost fell. It was a terrible run and I felt more stressed afterwards, not to mention the increased risk for injury. If the weather is close to freezing, do not go for a long run! As your body’s energy supplies diminish and your intensity declines, your body’s ability to heat itself decreases, making you more susceptible to hypothermia. Now that I'm older, and somewhat wiser, you won’t catch me running or working out in those conditions. I'd much rather do a body weight workout I can do safely at home instead!

2. Dress Appropriately.

From your head to your feet, make sure you are wearing moisture wicking material (a.k.a. no cotton!!!) When a muscle is cold, it is less able to produce force, and fatigue can occur more rapidly. This kind of material not only does a great job of keeping your body cool in the summer, but it also keeps you warm in the winter. Cover your ears and hands, and wear as many lightweight layers as you need to. It may take some trial and error for you to figure out how many layers work best for you, but it’s always better to be over-prepared!

3. Take Your Phone.

I know there are so many pushes for us all to disconnect and exercise can be an awesome way to clear your mind. But in this case, let's make sure if anything happens to you while you’re out, you've got a way to get ahold of someone for help.

4. Find a Buddy.

Safety in numbers! One of the other things I love about running outside is running with a friend. One of my good friends and I have been running together and it not only makes the time go by faster, but it is safer, more motivating, and way more fun!

5. Hydrate.

I know it’s usually associated with hotter weather, but it is just as important to stay properly hydrated during the winter months as well. When we breathe in cold, dry air, our bodies have to work harder to humidify and warm the air up. Dehydration can make that process difficult, and potentially cause a whole host of other problems, including muscle cramps, fatigue, fluid retention, exhaustion, and poor appetite control. So drinking up before and after a workout is crucial for our bodies to work efficiently!

What are your favorite types of outdoor activities or workouts?

Photo by Kelsey Cherry.