Winter Workout Tips

by Rona Berg

Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter by seeing his shadow on Groundhog Day last year. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Phil was sort of right — the US did see below-average temperatures in February but experienced above-average temperatures in March.

This year’s prediction, not surprisingly, is the same: We can expect six more weeks of winter!  You may want to spend your time hibernating like a polar bear instead of heading on an early run – but a good workout is always important. Exercise helps release endorphins and maintains muscle mass. 

And if you suffer from SAD, the benefits are especially noticeable: exercise can help alleviate symptoms during the dark, cold February days until the sun starts shining again. Here are a few winter workout  tips from MedStar Health Sports Medicine Physician Kori Hudson:

1. Do an Indoor Warmup 

Before enjoying the great outdoors, do a warmup inside of at least 15 minutes. This exercise will warm your muscles, raise your body temperature and get a little sweat going. Make sure you stretch after your workout too, until your heart rate drops to its resting rate. 

2. Keep Your Extremities Warm

It’s important to keep your head, ears, hands and feet well covered when you exercise outdoors. A thick beanie or headband is easy to take off if you get hot and paired with gloves and thick socks, you’ll stay cozy in the cold. Remember good footwear for slippery sidewalks. 

3. Wear Lots of Layers

If you’re planning to go on an outdoor run or walk, layer your clothing. Start with a base layer that will keep you warm and wick away sweat, then keep adding layers depending on the temperature outside. 

4. Start Slow 

When it is extra cold outside, stick to a 30 to 60 minute workout depending on your fitness level, and increase your workout time gradually. This approach helps ensure that your heart and body have time to adapt to the cold weather while you exercise. 

5. Hydrate

Although you may not sweat as much in the cold air, staying hydrated is key to a good workout. Make sure to drink lots of fluids before and after your workout, as dehydration may be difficult to spot during the cold weather and could negatively affect your cardiovascular system.

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