It’s cold out there-but you can’t stop exercising! Sure you could grab your protein shaker and hit the gym for an indoor workout, but that can get boring and fast. Getting outside no matter what time of year, is a great motivator. Outdoor exercise just plain feels good: breathing fresh air, cranking up your energy as you enjoy the benefits of sunlight, and decreasing tension and depression. In the summer the humidity and heat can make you feel worn out, but the cold is invigorating.
But outdoor exercise has special challenges. You can’t just fill up your protein shaker, strap on your sneakers, and hit the road. You need to prepare yourself for everything that winter exercise throws in your way. Here are some important things to keep in mind when you’re gearing up to enjoy all the benefits of working out in the cold.
Plan Your Path
One of the major hazards of outdoor activity is making sure you’re not slipping, sliding, and hurting yourself. You need stable and safe footing in order to prevent injury, especially if you’ll be working out early in the morning or after work, when it’s already starting to get dark. Map out a route that takes you through streets and sidewalks that are reliably plowed and salted after every storm, and only choose a path that’s well lit, so that you can keep an eye out for any black ice. Consider mapping out a repeatable loop that challenges you, but doesn’t take you too far from home, so if you do stumble you’re close to home and get can back quickly.
Don’t Forget to Warm Up
You need to warm up before any workout, but it’s especially important to warm up before you work out in the cold. Start your warm up indoors for five minutes before you head out to make sure you’re ready to go.
Your protein shaker is going to be one of your most important winter workout tools. It’s just as important to stay hydrated during winter workouts as it is during the summer, even if you don’t feel as dry as you would in the heat. Fill up your protein shaker with water, an energy-boosting drink, or a shot of protein to keep you going through your workout.
Avoid the Elements
Of course you can’t avoid everything the winter weather has to throw at you, but the best way to stay warm and safe is to avoid roads that are open and running by the water. If you stick to tree-lined streets or city blocks, you’ll stay more protected from the worst of the wind and the snow.
Don’t Forget to Cool Down
The cool down is essential when you’re working out outside; if you don’t cool down properly, you’ll either get too chilled or get overwhelmed by the heat once you’re back indoors. Slow down while you’re still outside to start bringing down the heat, but do your stretching inside with your gear still on.