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How to Work Out Outside When It’s Cold

With the weather in the UK set to get much colder in the coming days, you might feel like reconsidering your outdoor workout regime. The good news is that you don’t need to give it up, after all working out outside has many physical and mental health benefits and can help us reconnect with nature at a time when it’s all too easy to hibernate. Instead, it’s all about making a few adjustments to ensure you’re well prepared to face the cold. Here are just some.

Spend longer on your warm-up

Exercising outside in cold temperatures means you’re more prone to injury if you haven’t warmed up adequately. When you’re cold already, your muscles and joints need extra time to loosen up and heat up to allow them to become more flexible and less prone to injury. Try and do multiple exercises that activate lots of muscles at once and if you can, work through static versions of the workout you’re about to do. So, if you’re going for a run, your dynamic warm up should involve squats and arm swings.

Dress for all types of weather

During the colder months it’s not just freezing temperatures and winds you need to think about dressing for, but rain and snow as well. Of course, making sure you have adequate layers on to reduce the risk of catching a chill is key (think thermal leggings and layers that trap warm air) but it’s important to protect yourself against potential rain, as being wet can quickly cause your body to lose core temperature. Finally, if it’s going to be icy, then you’ll need to think about your extremities too, all of which are most affected by colder temperatures as blood gets moved to the core of your body and becomes less available in those areas. To keep fingers, toes and ears warm, invest in good quality gloves, thick thermal socks and a headband.

Keep focused on your goal

When it’s dark, cold and wet outside, the temptation to stay in the warm can be huge. Keeping up a regular fitness routine no matter the forecast is important not just for physical heath but for your mental health too, which can suffer anyway with a lack of sunlight. As well as boosting serotonin and dopamine levels to increase your sense of happiness and wellbeing, working out also lowers cortisol levels over time, which is your body’s hormonal response to stress. In the run up to a busy festive season, scheduling in regular time for a stress-busting activity is a great idea and should set you in good stead to face it all feeling calm and collected.

Think about your route

Nothing will derail an outdoor workout regimen faster than a poorly planned route. When it gets colder, it’s important to think about how your workout may be affected. If you’re a runner, think about the paths and trails you usually run and whether they’re likely to still be suitable when the weather turns. If they’re poorly maintained or are unlikely to be salted during icy frosts, then as well as making it more difficult to navigate you might be putting yourself at risk of injury too.

Remember to breathe right

Although you might not think about it, breathing when it’s colder outside can feel different and can even feel quite painful if you’re not used to it. That’s because airways constrict in the cold which makes breathing in more difficult. Add to that the fact you’re breathing in drier air too and it’s no wonder it suddenly fees like a bit of a struggle. Although breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth will help, if your heartrate is up, it’s not always easy to do so. Instead try loosely wrapping a scarf around your mouth while you exercise. As long as it doesn’t hinder your breathing in any way, it will help to help trap the moisture from your breath inside the layer, making it easier to breathe as you continue through.

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