Taking your workout outdoors during the colder months is not only a great way to reinvigorate your fitness routine, exercising in cold weather has proven health benefits such as increasing your body’s metabolism and ability to burn fat, reduces depression from simply being out in nature, and increases your intake of vitamin D. Outdoor workouts also allow you to improve and develop your mental stamina and is something some might say contributes to ‘character building’. And if another wave of Covid-19 hits us this winter and your gym goes into lockdown, you'll be well prepared to maintain your consistency by taking those sweat sessions outdoors.
Now that we’ve established the benefits of braving the elements when the temperature has plunged, it’s time to consider how to dress appropriately to exercise outdoors comfortably. The ideal method is to learn how to intelligently layer your clothing and keep in mind the technical properties your activewear fabrics possess. By dressing yourself in a specific combination of layers, you will more easily regulate your body temperature, keep moisture away from your skin, and stay warm and dry even as you are working up a sweat.
Layering is Key
The Base Layer: Tight or form-fitting, your base layer should sit against your skin to keep you warm and dry by wicking moisture away from your body. Cotton, because it retains moisture, should be avoided. Based on how cold conditions can get in your region and the activity you'll engage in, you'll need to select which fabric weight is best for you—light, medium, or heavy. As you move up the scale, you lose some wicking efficiency, but you gain insulation.Shop Cold Weather Gear 〉
The Mid-Layer: The mid-layer is where you’ll incorporate the apparel that will provide you warmth. Although it should be looser than the base, to keep you warm, it must maintain contact with the base to dissipate further the moisture that has already wicked away from your skin. Wool, fleece, and new synthetic blends are ideal.Shop Cold Weather Gear 〉
The Outer Layer: The outer layer protects you from the elements, such as wind and rain, yet also continues to allow moisture to escape. Accessible pockets, storm cuffs, a hood, throat protector, and ankle zippers (for bottoms) are just some of the additional features you should consider when shopping for outer layers.Shop Cold Weather Gear 〉
Once you've assembled your outdoor workout ensemble, there are some things to keep in mind:
- Be sure to follow your care instructions as indicated on the garment label. The fabrics used are technically advanced, and to retain their properties, they must be cared for properly.
- Allow yourself the option to adjust by removing or adding layers as the conditions and your workout dictate.
- Always ensure your extremities—head, hands, and feet—are also adequately clothed in accessories that can withstand the cold.
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- Warm-up correctly to avoid injury or muscle strain. A quick circuit of stretches and mobility exercises will ensure you're in fine fettle for when you get out there to feel the burn.
- Pace yourself to acclimatize yourself to the conditions. When first delving into outdoor workouts, it’s best not to give your all from the get-go and instead ease into the activity to allow yourself to warm up as you increase your exertion levels.
- Opt for shorter and more frequent sessions in winter. Adapting to the conditions is vital to ensure your safety.
- Sample a variety of different sports/activities. Cross-training will sustain your enthusiasm and allow you to work different muscle groups on different days.
- Succumbing to exhaustion during the colder months is not only unhealthy, but it also has the potential to pose a real danger as well.
- Remain aware of what you and your body can do. If the conditions are especially ghastly with a cold, bitter wind and blowing snow, maybe take the opportunity to keep your workout indoors.
Switching to outdoor workouts can shock the system, especially if this is your first time taking your exercise outside, which is why proper gear, adequate preparation, and understanding the challenges and benefits of working out outside is essential. Whatever you decide to get into, we hope you stay healthy and have fun.