Sunday, November 6, 2011

Oh, The Weather Outside is Frightful (or it will be soon enough!)

As the temperature drops and the snow begins to fall, so does our enthusiasm to exercise.  Too often the idea of stepping out into the frosty air to exercise causes most of us to put our fitness program on hold during the winter weather.  But don't worry, if you incorporate the following tips, you can exercise safely, enjoyably and successfully in whatever artic conditions Mother Nature sends your way.

Don't Overdress
The most common mistake isn't that exercisers wear too little clothing... it's that they wear too much.  Use the "Plus 25 degrees" rule.  For example, if you are going to exercise on a 25-degree day, dress for about 50-degrees.  If you don't feel at least slightly chilled when you step outside, you are already overdressed!

Layers, But Not Too Many
You should wear no more than three layers on your upper body and two layers on your lower body.  The first layer should be a thermal undergarment made of a fabric that draws sweat away from the skin, such as polypropylene.  The second layer should be a wool sweater or turtleneck for your upper body and sweat pants or Lycra tights for the legs.  The outside layer can be a waterproof, wind-resistant, breathable jacket.

Cover All Exposed Skin
On windy, chilly days, a hat, which conserves a significant percentage of the body's heat is a must.  Wear mittens instead of gloves.  If you don't have mittens, wear a heavy pair of sweat socks on your hands.

Zip It
Wear clothes that can be adjusted if you become too hot or too cold.  For example, a hooded sweatshirt with a zipper is more versatile than a pullover sweatshirt.

Watch The Wind
Plan your exercise route so that you start facing the wind and end in the same direction as the wind.  You'll want to face the worst encounter while you are still fresh and dry to decrease exposure to wind chill effects.

Limber Up Longer
During your winter exercise excursions, spend more time than normal warming up.  Warm-up and stretch before you head outside.

Be On The Defensive
Shorter daylight hours, poor visibility and the risk of sliding cars can make your run, walk or ride very hazardous to your health.  Wear bright clothing, a reflective vest or reflective strips if exercising at night.  Do not run or walk in icy conditions.

Drink Up
Just because the weather outside is chilly does not mean you shouldn't drink plenty of water.  You lose just as much body fluid during your icy winter workouts  as in the summer.

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