Exercising outside during the winter months with the cold, snow, ice, and darkness can be tough but not impossible. Below are some tips you can follow as you prepare for your next workout outside.
1. Check both the temperature and wind conditions before you go out. Do not ignore either one. Wind can be more brutal than temperature. If conditions are extreme or dangerous, curtail your workout till later or take it indoors. As in any exercise situation, safety should come first.
2. Dress in layers. You want to be warm, but not too warm. You should be able to easily add or remove layers as needed. The innermost layer should be made of a synthetic fabric that wicks moisture away from the skin. It should fit the body snugly. The outermost layer should be of Gore-Tex or other similar fabric that will block wind, rain and snow without sacrificing breathability. You should be able to adjust your clothing as you and/or the temperature starts to warm up or get colder.
3. Wear a hat. Heat loss from the head alone is about 50%. A cotton or knit hat will provide extra warmth and keep heat from leaving the body. It can easily be removed and stashed in a pocket when not needed. Same goes for gloves.
4. If running in the dark, make sure you are wearing reflective gear and/or a reflective vest so you can be seen by cars. Consider carrying a small flashlight. You can get one that easily clips on to your hat. Make it easy to see and be seen.
5. If it is icy, slow down. Avoid fast running, you will reduce the risk of slipping and falling. Be aware of traffic and keep a safe distance, if you are slipping, rest assured cars are slipping too.
6. If it is snowing and windy, pick a course closer to home in case you need to cut your workout short.
7. Carry a cell phone, id and money with you, in case you get stuck in a situation and need help.
You do not need to stop exercising outdoors just because winter has settled in. Exercising outside during the winter can be enjoyable and fun. Just be smart and prepared.
Here to your health!