Working out in the winter is hard. The dark mornings make it so tempting to hit snooze and skip your morning exercise, and the cold weather can destroy your motivation to go to the gym. It’s during these colder months that one can really understand why bears put on all that weight and hibernate through the winter.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. With the right tools and techniques, you can work out through the winter and go into spring and summer looking and feeling just as fit as you did last year. Here, we offer some tips and suggestions you can try to keep yourself active through the cold, no matter what the weather tries to throw at you.
Winter Exercise Safety
Before getting into exercises you can do during the winter, we should go over precautions. Winter exercise is perfectly safe, but cold weather can have a serious impact on your physiological and metabolic health if you are not careful. So let’s go over some health and safety tips to make sure you don’t overdo it.
Keep Hydrated, Even When You Don’t Feel Thirsty
Dehydration is just as severe an issue in cold weather as it is in the heat. The only difference is you don’t feel as thirsty in the cold—one study found that cold weather can diminish thirst by up to 40%. So be sure to stay hydrated, drinking about 16 ounces of water for every hour of physical activity.
Exercising in cold weather can put you at risk for hypothermia and frostbite. If you plan to work out in the cold for an extended amount of time, you should bundle up with warm and moisture-wicking clothing.
Your body is using tons of energy to keep you warm while you’re out in the cold. That means your body will get fatigued faster in colder weather, so you need to give it the right amount of fuel. Make sure you eat a hearty breakfast before morning runs and pack plenty of snacks for all-day winter activities.
Running in the Cold
Aside from popular outdoor sports like soccer and football, many exercises aren’t going to be affected by cold weather—activities like basketball and weight training are usually done inside anyway. But if you’re an avid runner who doesn’t own a treadmill, you’ll probably need to change your routine once the colder months come rolling in.
Fortunately, the cold doesn’t have to keep you from your daily runs. Here are five tips to keep your runs safe and effective throughout the winter.
1. Do a Warmup Inside
Your muscles will stay contracted and tight in the cold, so any attempt to warm up outside may be futile. Instead, do a 15-minute warmup routine inside. This might look like jogging up and down your stairs, doing some yoga, or even just tidying up around the house. Once you’re done, your muscles and joints will be loose and ready to run.
2. Dress Appropriately
Sweat is the real killer of winter workouts—the moisture from your sweat can drastically decrease your body temperature as it absorbs the cold air around you. Wearing a moisture-wicking base layer will keep that from happening.
Your ears and fingers can quickly go numb and get susceptible to frostbite, so make sure they’re covered. And if you start to feel overheated with a hat and gloves on, you can quickly shove them in your pockets.
3. Get Shoes with Good Traction
Hopefully, you can avoid running on paths that are covered with snow or ice. But just in case, your shoes should have excellent traction. You can also look into getting traction cleats. That way, even if you accidentally run over a patch of ice, you’re less likely to slip and injure yourself.
4. Don’t Overdo It
The cold isn’t the best time to go for a personal record. Your contracted blood vessels means your heart has to pump harder and faster to get blood to the ends of your extremities. So slow down your runs—your goal should be to maintain your running muscles and keep in shape so you can get back into more intense training once the weather warms up.
5. Know When Cold is Too Cold
Somedays, the weather should keep you inside. If it is below zero degrees Fahrenheit with windchill, you should skip your run. Frostbite can set in as fast as 30 minutes in those conditions, which you should avoid at all costs.
Maybe you want to avoid the outdoors completely for your winter exercise routine. We totally get it—the cold isn’t for everybody! But a lot of people feel this way, which means the gym will be extra crowded. So here are some ways you can effectively work out from the comfort of your home or even your office.
Resistance Band Exercises
You don’t need a lot to make a home gym that meets all your needs—resistance bands make this incredibly easy and still let you exercise your main muscle groups.
With resistance bands, you can find exercises that give your entire body a workout, or you can take a week and switch off targeting different areas. There’s a lot of freedom to find the best approach that works for you.
If you plan to be on the go for the holidays or on other trips, Gorilla Bow offers a travel-friendly collection of resistance bands. It’s easy to pack and bring with you wherever you plan to go.
When the cold makes you feel sluggish and tense, that’s the perfect time to roll out the yoga mat. Practicing yoga in the winter will keep your muscles loose and warmed up so you can keep moving all day.
Yoga brings several health benefits as well, giving you more energy and improving your cardiovascular health and circulation. And during the cold months, we could all use a little more energy and warmth.
Walks at Work
One of the biggest deterrents to working out during the winter is how dark it gets outside. The sun doesn’t rise until late morning, and then it’s already set by the time most people get home from work. So if you want to exercise in the sunlight, without sacrificing any of your sleep time, your only option is during the middle of the day.
Midday workouts may seem impossible if you have a 9-5 job. If this sounds like your situation, then you should consider going on quick walks while at work. Get up every hour and take a five-minute walk. At lunchtime, take a longer walk around the neighborhood. This gives you a chance to get some fresh air, take a break from work, and get a workout all at once.
Winter Hobbies that Keep You ActiveInstead of doing the same workouts all year, you may want to take advantage of the change of terrain and do some snow and winter activities. Here are some ideas of winter activities to try that can add a little more fun or competition to your winter exercises:
- Downhill skiing
- Cross-country skiing
- Ice skating
- Ice hockey
Keep Moving this WinterWhile there’s nothing wrong with taking it easy in the winter, you shouldn’t let the cold force you into a sedentary lifestyle. After all, summer bodies are made in the winter.
So let us help you craft your perfect winter exercise routine. With Gorilla Bow or Gorilla Bow Lite, you can complete your workout goals from the comfort of your own home.