So, you’ve decided that now is the time to get off the couch and get fit. One problem. It’s freezing outside! What to do, what to do? You could hit up the gym, but that can be expensive. Let’s say you want to get fit while enjoying all that our great nation has to offer. Here are a few tips for exercising safely and enjoyably outdoors in the winter months.
Don’t be a hero!
Perhaps that should read a different way—don’t be an idiot! If it’s a bazillion degrees below zero, there is snow/rain/fog everywhere, or the sidewalks are icier than your local skating rink, stay indoors. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking an unscheduled rest day in the name of safety. Heading out in treacherous weather could lead to you putting yourself or those around you at risk. Besides, you don’t want to set back your training schedule with an injury.
Dress to impress
Dressing for the weather is crucial all year long. I’ve been told that when running, the key is to dress for a temperature ten degrees warmer than the thermometer, because your body heats up as you exercise. If you’re doing something more low-impact, such as a walk or a hike, add on a few extra layers. It’s always better to air on the side of caution, so if you’re not sure, add another layer! And don’t forget to be seen. It gets dark early in the winter, so spending a few bucks on some reflective gear (as fancy as a jacket or as cheap and cheerful as a reflective snap band) is a very good idea.
Bring a buddy
Working out with a friend can be a great way to motivate yourself. You’re way less likely to skip your workout if you’ve got a bud bundled up and waiting at the door! Plus, exercising with a friend makes the time go by faster – the hill doesn’t seem quite so bug when you’re laughing all the way up. And of course, a post-workout stretch sesh adds on even more time for catching up.
Know your limits
Your stamina when exercising outdoors can be seriously affected by the weather. Something that is easy for you to do during the balmy days of spring, may feel a little harder in the dead of winter. Pushing yourself is necessary when exercising, but don’t overdo it. Accept the fact that running the same distance will feel harder in the winter than it will in the spring. Account for the weather when you’re training. If you keep an exercise diary, note the weather you worked out in, along with everything else. You might be surprised to see what kind of trends emerge.
Last but not least, enjoy yourself! You’ve made an awesome choice to commit to fitness, even when it means heading outside while everyone else stays cozy under the covers (wimps). Take in the environment around you, and watch the seasons change as you run your way to spring!