Exercising in any season is beneficial. However certain precautions and attention to signs and symptoms of cold weather health hazards will ensure that you stay generally safe whether exercising indoors or outdoors in the winter. Those who suffer from asthma, exercise induced bronchitis, heart conditions must however consult their doctor first as your heart and lungs have to work extra hard during cold.
During winters people tend to crave carbohydrates more. Research shows that the body increases the production of a chemical ATLPL that promotes fat storage. While exercising, you produce SMLPL which is a muscle enzyme that helps to burn fat and offsets the effect of ATLPL, yet another good reason to stay with your exercise routine instead of going into winter hibernation.
Some things that can make exercise safe and fun to follow during the cold months:
• Dressing appropriately. Layering in winter is the most ideal way of dressing for your workout. Avoid materials that absorb sweat and stay wet. Use breathable fabrics such as synthetic material to wick away moisture from your skin. Layering allows you to remove or add clothing as your body warms and cools down.
• If you are exercising outdoors in extreme weather conditions, ensure that your head is covered as you lose 50% of your body heat from the uncovered head. Additionally, if you feel very cold, use gloves and wear a beanie. However, remember not to overdo it. If training indoors, do not start to take off your layers down to the tee shirt as soon as you start to feel warm.
• When going outdoors to exercise, take ten minutes to do a low-level aerobic exercise like jogging on the spot or jumping jacks to prepare the body.
• Your footwear must be appropriate when exercising irrespective of the weather. Use footwear with good traction if you are going to be running outdoors.
• Stay hydrated because it is equally important in winter as it is in the summer. Dehydration is more difficult to notice in winter. Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after workout.
• It is important to stay active and have a regular exercise routine all year round. A well-rounded exercise program optimizes your health benefits. Always aim for progression in your exercise routine. Make it more challenging and fun. I recommend High Intensity Interval Training or Circuit Training as one of the most effective exercise forms, especially for those short on time.
• Most people suffer from occasional colds and flu in this season. Listen to your body and get adequate rest and nutrition. Resume exercise when you feel recovered and pick up pace gradually.
• Meditate for a few minutes every day. These few minutes of practice can influence and enhance your entire day. It helps reduce stress, increase calmness and clarity, and promotes happiness and wellbeing.
• Make exercise a non-negotiable part of your schedule. It is as important as eating, sleeping and breathing. Give it high priority on your daily schedule and you will only gain from the enormous benefits of exercise as you gain physical strength, stamina, balance and flexibility besides feeling energetic and positive, even when the sun is not out.