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Adjusting to cold weather fitness

Adjusting to cold weather fitness

When the north wind blows you might feel like snuggling up with a blanket instead of donning your workout trainers. But don’t go cold on the idea of fitness and exercise; it may be the ideal thing to warm yourself up. So rather than adjusting the heating, try adjusting some of your fitness habits to suit the cold weather instead.

Adjust your clothing

  • At the gym.  If you’re using a heated gym then you should be fine once you get inside. Remember to take a change of clothes with you. Walking outside into cold air feels much worse when sweat is clinging to your body, and can mess around with your temperature. Consider putting on some sort of tracksuit (one with a hood would be ideal) to provide a microclimate until you reach your car and heater. If you usually walk to the gym then take plenty of layers so you discard/add as required.
  • Outdoors. Colder days needn’t be a stop sign for those who like exercising outdoors. Whether you’re doing a military-style workout, running or cycling, wearing several thin layers of clothes will keep you warm and dry. Body heat gets trapped in air pockets between the layers of clothing. Wear technical or natural sports material with a base layer close to the skin, then a fleece and finally a top layer to block the wind. If you suffer from cold feet consider wearing wool or cotton socks so more warm air is held around your feet. Finally, don’t forget to wear more reflective clothing to give drivers a better chance to see you.

Adjust your workout habits

  • Swap outdoor workouts for the gym. A gym is the perfect alternative to outdoor workouts during the cold weather and offers many advantages. You can use treadmills, free weights and machines, maybe have access to a pool and even a sauna. If you like running outdoors the treadmills in gyms are ideal for keeping a fast pace without the risk of slipping over on icy pavements.
  • Keep it regular. The key to good winter workouts is consistency. If you’re lacking motivation setting yourself some fitness challenges may beneficial. It could be anything from losing a few pounds to doing a 5k (yes, they still go on during winter).  
  • Listen to your body. Remember colder months can bring more bugs, aches and pains so pay close attention to your body. The air-conditioned gym environment can increase your risk of picking up germs from the equipment so consider taking antiseptic wipes with you to clean machines before using.  Any sign of sore throats, cough or sneezes and go easier on your fitness routine for a while. 

Adjust your nutrition

  • Drink plenty of water. Although you may feel less like drinking in cold weather, keeping hydrated is an important way to prevent your skin becoming dry. Cracked, dehydrated skin is more likely to lose heat too.
  • Eat regularly. Lack of food can make you feel cold. Even if you’re busy make sure you eat something, particularly if you’re not moving around. 
  • Eat well. Keeping colds at bay will allow your exercise routine to continue uninterrupted. Eat foods high in Vitamin C and other immune-boosting foods.  Certain foods have been shown to boost circulation such as garlic and ginger. Try some raw ginger and cinnamon in a post workout smoothie to help continue that increased pumping of blood around your body.

Adjust your exercises

Keeping moving is the absolutely best way to keep yourself warm. If you are still exercising regularly you will be helping your body generate heat.

  • Turn up your warm up. Whether you’re at the gym or outdoors be sure to limber up properly in the warmth. Aim to start very cool, because you should be very warm within 10 minutes.
  • Boost poor circulation. Circulatory problems are increasingly common in men and women, particularly with our more sedentary lifestyles, and it can become a real problem in cold weather. Try to move around as much as possible every day. Any exercise will improve blood circulation and generate body heat, whether it’s gentle or vigorous.
  • Focus on stress relief. Exercising helps reduce stress which is another contributing factor to poor circulation. Classes such as kickboxing and body combat are ideal to get the blood pumping and work off some of that stress. Spinning is another class where the high intensity means you can blast away frustration.
  • Throw in some new routines. A whole new season is the perfect time to try out some new exercises. Adding variety to workouts every 4-6 weeks is physically and mentally beneficial and helps prevent weight loss plateaus. As long as you stick to a combination of cardio and weights you can try anything.

Colder weather can be invigorating and wonderful. So ditch any exercise excuses and go and enjoy this wonderful time of year.