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HomeHealthTop safety tips for exercising outside during winter

Top safety tips for exercising outside during winter

In cold winter months it is important to take safety into consideration when exercising outdoors. Matthew Magnante, an exercise author at FitnessVolt, has compiled a list of his most important safety tips to keep in mind when exercising outdoors during the colder months.

Drink even if you don’t feel thirsty

Many may not realize this, but we are at an elevated risk of dehydration when exercising in colder temperatures. When it is cold, our blood vessels constrict to reduce the amount of heat lost through our skin, as a way of maintaining our core body temperature.

During this process a hormone called plasma arginine vasopressin (AVP) that normally signals thirst, is secreted at a lower rate than when exercising in hot weather. This explains why you might find yourself craving water less when exercising in winter. Research has found that exposure to cold weather can reduce our thirst sensation by as much as 40%. To prevent dehydration, continue to drink water as you would during summer and opt for a glass of water before heading out and continue to sip on a drink throughout and after your workout.

Opt for polyester over cotton t-shirts

Cotton is highly absorbent which means that as you sweat the material tends to stay wet rather than drying out. Water conducts heat away from the body up to 25 times faster than air, which means you will lose body heat much more quickly in colder temperatures and increase your risk of developing hyperthermia.

Moisture-wicking materials such as polyester or wool will keep you warmer because their fibers absorb less water, and they dry out more quickly. Polyester fibers are designed to insulate you even when wet by trapping a layer of air between the fabric and your skin, while the shape of its fibers are designed to remove water.

Stretch before and after exercise

Stretching before you exercise is particularly important in winter, as your muscles tend to contract to conserve heat, which makes them more prone to injury.

Try to incorporate dynamic stretches before you head out for a winter run, to increase your muscles’ internal temperature and reduce the risk of injury.

Body weight squats, calf raises, and good old-fashioned jumping jacks are effective dynamic stretches that get the blood flowing and increase your core body temperature, before you head outside.

Post workout, you want to perform static stretches, which require you to stretch and hold a muscle group for 15-30 seconds.

Cut your sessions in half

Running and walking on snow and ice engages different muscles than running on dry ground, due to the reduced friction and uneven surfaces. Consequently, you are likely to put yourself at risk of injury if you try to complete your regular distance without first adapting to the new conditions.

A good rule of thumb when on icy routes is to halve your regular distance until you have adapted to the slippery or uneven surfaces.

Reducing the distance between each step will also help to keep your feet under your center of gravity and allow you to recover more easily should you lose your balance.

Let someone know where you’re going

For iPhone users, you can temporarily enable location sharing on the Find My app which will enable family, friends or your partner to track your location should you slip and injure yourself while exercising on ice or snow.

For more tips head to fitnessvolt.com.

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