Avoid The Chills While Staying Fit This Winter

Winter workout 101

If you’re determined to stick it out through the cold and crush your fitness goals, then this article’s for you.

It’s that time of year again. The days are shorter, the skies are grayer, and lazy days on the couch are becoming more appealing. Feeling sleepier than usual when winter rolls around is normal; in fact, our bodies respond to colder weather by increasing melatonin flow- a hormone that regulates sleep cycles and heightens hunger.

In other words, if you feel like hibernating this winter, that’s quite alright. We’re practically hardwired for it! But, if you’re determined to stick it out through the cold and crush your fitness goals, then this article’s for you. While there are risks involved with working out in chilly weather, the potential for the pay-off is high when you exercise caution. Here’s how:

Dress to Sweat

As you layer up for an outdoor fitness session, keep in mind that clothes made of cotton will soak up your sweat and zap the warmth right out of your skin, leaving you cold and wet. The more miserable you feel, the more likely you are to throw up your arms and quit. Instead, opt for breathable clothes that will dry faster, such as polyester, nylon, or polypropylene.

Join a Community

From Yoga to Crossfit, opportunities abound in Williamson County to link up with fellow fitness enthusiasts for some extra support. Not sure where to begin? A little birdie told us that Soul Strong Yoga, located in Round Rock, has excellent specials going on this month.

If you’ve already found Nirvana and are looking for something different, Georgetown’s TrueCore Fitness offers a mix of high and low-intensity workout options, including their combination Boxing and Pilates class.

Don’t Let the Clouds Fool You

It’s just as essential to protect your skin in the winter as it is in the summer. According to the WHO’s Global Solar UV Index, up to 80% of the sun’s UVA rays can penetrate even the thickest of clouds on a wintry overcast day. Just like a good stretch, one ought to make applying sunscreen an essential part of their routine. Consider grabbing a hat to protect your head from sunburn as well.

Speaking of Stretching…

We generally think of stretching as something we do before a workout begins. The truth is, cold weather reduces the muscular range of motion by causing muscles to contract and tighten. This doesn’t just increase our chances of sustaining strains and sprains; research suggests that stretching before workouts also impedes the body’s performance. Save the stretch for last, and opt for dynamic warm-up exercises like lunges, squats, jumping jacks, and arm circles.

Protect Your Lungs

When we run in wintry weather, the cold fills our lungs and narrows our airways, creating that tight feeling in our chest. As refreshing as the crisp, cool air can be, it can also lead to throat burn once we speed up and start breathing faster. Certain high-performance cold weather face masks like those by ColdAvenger include a ventilator that warms and humidifies inhaled air, allowing for easy breathing without the burn. On windy days, it’s also best to begin the run by heading into the wind. That way, the wind is behind you when you’re breathing heavier on the way back.

Listen to Your Heart

Winter is associated with a higher amount of cardiac symptoms. As our body temperature falls, the pressure in our blood vessels increases, requiring the heart to work harder to keep up with us. This increase in pressure may cause symptoms of angina or shortness of breath for people with cardiovascular disease. If you have or suspect that you have heart problems, you must consult with a licensed cardiologist before taking your workouts to the cold outdoors.

Drink Up

You know that it’s important to hydrate while exercising, but do you really know why? For one, proper hydration protects your muscles and digestive processes from breaking down, and this is especially important during winter workouts when the body must exert itself harder. When you’re colder, you might not feel as thirsty, but that certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drink water often.

Research suggests that 75% of Americans may suffer from chronic dehydration. Furthermore, the body needs more water in the winter months to properly regulate body temperature. As a general rule, we should all aim to drink at least half our body weight in ounces each day.

Now that you’re prepared to get the most out of your workout this winter, there’s only one thing left to do: have fun! During the final stretch of the year, Williamson County hosts numerous races and running series, such as the Round Rock Turkey Trot and the Old Town Rudolph Run. Find everything there is to learn about those and other upcoming races right here. Stay safe, and enjoy the holidays!