Cold temperatures can discourage even the most motivated exercisers. Don't let the cold weather put an end to your exercise routine. Here are some tips to keep you active (and safe) all winter long.
Check weather conditions and wind chill and modify as necessary. Temperature, wind and moisture, along with the length of time that you'll be outside, are key factors in planning a safe cold-weather workout. Wind and cold together make up the wind chill. Any exposed skin is vulnerable to frost bite so dress accordingly.
Layer up: Layers can be taken off as you begin to sweat and put back on as you cool down. Your first layer should be something that wicks moisture away from your skin. Then add a layer of fleece, followed by a thin waterproof layer. Protect your head, ears, hands and feet from getting too cold. You may need to consider wearing a scarf or ski mask to cover your face.
Protect your skin: You can get sunburned just as easily in the winter as in the summer, especially if there's snow on the ground. Apply sunscreen to any exposed parts of your body to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
Don't skip the stretch: A cold day can make muscles tighter so be sure to warm up and stretch prior to heading outside to exercise.
Drink plenty of fluids: Don't forget about hydration -- it's as important during cold weather as it is in the heat of summer.
Consider physician clearance: Exerting yourself in cold weather puts extra strain on your heart. Cardiac patients should get a doctor's OK before heading outside for a wintry workout.
There is such a thing as too cold: Don't worry, you can get a great workout inside too. Even in a tight space, a full-body workout can be achieved with only a jump rope and hand weights or resistance bands. You can also try body-weight exercises like lunges, planks and push-ups.
Whether you're outside, at home or in the gym, we encourage you to stay active all season long!
Kay Benward is an exercise specialist and supervisor at the Sam B. Cook Healthplex Fitness Center. She has been with Capital Region Medical Center for 30 years and inspired many people to lead healthy lives through exercise. She continues to teach classes and enjoys training the mature adult for balance, posture and functional strength, as well as educating her clients, staff and community on exercise as medicine.