Get set to exercise in the cold

02 Dec 2022

Keep your outdoor workout on track as the temperature falls 

While some may call it ‘too cold’ and put away their trainers for another day, you say it’s ‘invigorating’ and lace up. We salute you.

There are proven benefits to exercising outside. Studies have found that working out en plein air improves mental wellbeing more than exercise inside. Also, people report that they’re more likely to repeat an activity when they’ve done it outdoors. So, it’s well worth getting out there, even if conditions are, let’s say, uninviting. Be prepared and stay warm, dry-ish, safe, and focused on your fitness with these tips.

Breathe easy

The normally simple act of inhaling and exhaling often feels laborious when exercising. When the air is very cold, it seems even harder to catch a breath. Some people report a sore throat after working out in low temperatures, too. Cold air is dry, and can make your throat dry in turn.

You might find it helps to breathe in through your nose rather than your mouth, if you can. Carry a drink with you when you exercise, even if you wouldn’t usually for the same session, and sip to keep your throat from getting parched.

A helping hand

Painfully chilled hands are a common hazard of outdoor autumn and winter workouts. It’s a particular threat for those who have poor circulation or Raynaud’s phenomenon, but others can be affected, too. You might experience pins and needles, numbness, pain and or stiffness as the smaller blood vessels in your fingers restrict in response to the chill.

A simple but effective move is to wear gloves. Many running-specific designs use special material that means you can still use your phone or watch’s touchscreen. Pop a handwarmer heat pack in your pocket so it’s there if you need it.

Wet-weather wear

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing, or so the saying goes. If your workout takes you over mulchy, icy, or wet ground, you might want to invest in a pair of trainers with increased grip to help you avoid slips. The soles of trail running shoes are designed for a better grasp. A lightweight water-repellent jacket will keep the worst of the rain off, and can be tied around the waist if you get too hot. Often, these have handy pockets and reflective details which will make you more visible on dull days. Remember, stay safe – consider high-vis gear, lights, and make sure you can hear what’s going on around you.

Warm up and cool down

We know, we know, but doing this properly can help prevent injury and make your workout better. In the cold, it’s especially important. It’s thought that cold decreases muscle flexibility. So, spend 5-10 minutes doing your bit both pre- and post- workout. It’s worth it, rather than setting off at pace feeling cold and stiff, which might cause you to struggle or injure yourself. Even some brisk walking will get your body moving and the blood circulating. Meanwhile, stretching after exercise can improve your flexibility. Then for a well-deserved warm shower!

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Shop Sports Nutrition Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies. Sources

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