by Jason Bosley-Smith, CSCS, Live Well @ LifeBridge
The weather has turned colder and winter is here. Although this time of the year is usually accompanied by a drop in physical activity, it’s still important to stay active and healthy through the season. One option is to bring your exercise indoors and opt for the gym and other exercise equipment such as recumbent bikes, treadmills and ellipticals for your workouts. If you prefer outdoor options such as jogging and biking, then there are a few key things you want to keep in mind when preparing for a winter workout:
1. It’s fine to begin an exercise program in cold weather. Just be sure to dress appropriately in warm clothing such as layered, moisture-wicking, heat-insulating apparel. In addition, be sure to hydrate appropriately – although it may feel cold and you may not think you are sweating, you can still lose vital fluids through outdoor exercise that leave you dehydrated. Aim for half of your body weight in ounces of water each day to stay appropriately hydrated.
2. If you have asthma or any respiratory conditions, be cautious and take your inhaler or other aids with you when you head out. Cold air and wind can restrict bronchial tubes and make breathing more difficult.
3. Warm-up by beginning with a light bout of movement that incorporates various muscle groups. This type of “dynamic warm-up” will prevent you from injury and prime your body for the more intense bout of exercise. Once this is complete, you can begin to increase your intensity, gradually ramping up to your full exertion exercise.
4. After you’ve completed your movement-based warm-up, you can opt to stretch some, but continue to use the more active, dynamic stretches that more closely mimic the type of exercise you are about to perform. When you have completed your routine, then you can head indoors to stretch with more static, “hold” stretches.
5. Stretch the lower back, hamstrings, hip flexors and shoulders – these muscle groups are the most utilized in running and biking activities and are those that tend to tighten up most frequently. Again, stretching these areas will prevent any muscle strains or sprains, and will keep you from being as sore the following day.
Being active and healthy is a yearlong pursuit, so follow these simple tips to stay active and on top of your activity goals through the winter.