I piled on an extra layer of clothing, and met my friend at a nearby park to do our 3 mile walk/run before dark. As we started, it was 27 degrees, and a crisp wind was blowing at us. We were pretty chilly when we started, but we soon were warmed up, loosening up some of the layers. The sidewalk and trails already had icy spots, so we had to be extra careful with those.
If you, too, like to keep walking, running or playing outside during the winter weather, it's important to take a few precautions:
Dress warmly and in layers:
Dress warmly and in layers:
- Keep the layer of clothing next to your skin a synthetic fabric that wicks away moisture. Cotton shirts will absorb all that moisture, and ends up losing its ability to insulate and keep you warm. One popular brand to try is made by Underarmour.
- Good socks are a must. I love the Smart Wool brand. We were given a pair to try in our walk/run group, and they were great: light, warm and non-itchy.
- The next layer should be wool or a lighter weight fleece made of a synthetic fabric. This provides a nice insulating layer.
- Wear a wind and water resistant nylon or Gore-Tex jacket as the outside layer.
- Be sure to don on a stocking hat.
- Put on those gloves or mittens.
- Get your neck gaiter on. We were taught a great way to make your own: Take 1/4 yard of fleece. Wrap it around your head, then cut the fabric to that length. Stitch the shorter ends together to make a wide band. Use it to wrap around your neck, breathe through it when it's really cold out, or fold it over to make a headband. I've made 6 already---2 in a Snoopy Christmas pattern!
- Slip on your Yaks. Non-slip shoe grips like Yak Tracks really help when you are walking or running on snow and ice. I wore mine all the time last year!
- See: Take a flashlight or wear a headlamp.
- Be seen: Wear reflector strips or blinking safety lights.
Take care of your body:
- Be sure to walk slowly as you start your workout, then add speed accordingly. Cold weather tends to make muscles tighter, thus more at risk for strains. Warming up those muscle fibers slowly is even more important in cold weather.
- Blood pressure tends to rise quickly when exposed to sudden cold. Wearing warm clothing including that hat and gator, and warming up by starting slowly will help reduce any strain on your heart.
- Asthma symptoms are often aggravated in the cold. Take your inhaler with you if prescribed by your doctor. I find breathing through that neck gaiter helps me quite a bit.
- Be sure to consult your doctor if you have any questions about your own health and cold weather workouts.
- Stretch well after exercise (refer to the book, "Stretching," by Bob Anderson.)
- Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise for good hydration.
And if you've got somewhere to go, let it snow, let it snow, and just go!