Have you ever tried exercising/running outdoors in the cold? I hadn’t honestly done it until last winter. Now I find it MORE enjoyable out in the cold then when it’s summer time! You don’t get overheated as easily and the cold air is easier to breathe in. I do have my certain temps where I draw the line when it’s TOO cold, but I do find it more enjoyable. So with that said here are some tips for exercising in the cold weather when most people tend to think you should stay in doors where it is warm.
1) Wear layers
Making sure you are protected from all elements is crucial. Wind, rain, cold, etc. So by wearing layers, you create different barriers that as your body heats up, you can remove those barriers if need be. One thing with exercising outdoors is to remember to dress as if it’s about 10-15 degrees WARMER out. Yes in the beginning you will notice the coldness, but once you get warmed up, you will be thankful too! You don’t want to OVER layer though with items you can’t take off, or you risk sweating too much and thus cooling yourself off with a wet layer later in your long runs. The layer closest to you should definitely be a synthetic fabric or something made of polyester that wicks away moisture and pulls it away from your body such as Dri-Fit clothing. Second layer I like to go with is a fleece of some sort and then if cold enough a 3rd layer to protect against wind/water.
2) Wear a hat
About 50% of your body heat is lost through your uncovered head when the temperature hits the freezing mark. I like to wear a Dri-Fit hat too, so that it wicks away all my sweat (I sweat a LOT!), but yet keeps my head warm.
3) Wear gloves
Keeping your feet and hands warm in freezing temperature is also crucial as when your body gets cold that is the first parts of your body that blood is whisked away from. Making sure your body is nice and warm will help keep blood flow properly shunted towards feet AND hands.
4) Avoid heavy cotton materials
These will actually make you COLDER. They sop up sweat, keeping it close to your body making you colder. Stick to polyester/wool fabrics that don’t do this.
5) Check the weather/forecast
Make sure you look at the temperature and the windchill. The US National Safety Council says there is little risk when exercising in 20 degree Fahrenheit, even with 30 mile an hour winds, however dangers DO exist when the combined temperature and windchill fall below -20 degrees Fahrenheit.
6) Consider a face mask or scarf in frigid temperatures.
When temperature near those riskier temperatures, wear a loose layer of protection over your nose and mouth. By doing this, it will also help warm the frigid, cold air before it enters your lungs, helping to protect them as well.