Outdoor exercise is good for your body and mind no matter what time of year. It can help ward off the winter blues, boost your energy, and prevent weight gain. One of the simplest outdoor winter exercises is walking and despite the challenges of snow and plunging temperatures, experienced walkers know that winter walks can be some of the best they’ll experience all year.
So don’t let snow and plunging temperatures freeze your fitness goals. Follow these tips for safe and enjoyable cold weather exercise:-
1.Try Nordic Pole Walking. This is my favourite outdoor exercise because simply by picking up a pair of Nordic walking poles and using them correctly you will burn 46% more calories than regular walking, work the kinks out of your neck & shoulders and ease the pressure on your knees. Best of all, you won’t feel as though you are exerting much more effort.
Nordic Pole Walking will allow you to reach your fitness targets in half the time – a real bonus on a cold winter day – and the metal tip allows you to negotiate slippery surfaces more easily.
2. Dress appropriately. You won’t be able to walk in the winter in the baggy cotton sweats and T-shirts you wear in the summer as cotton soaks up sweat and holds moisture so in a very short time you will find yourself miserable, with soggy clothes and chattering teeth. Invest in clothes made out of material that will keep the moisture away from your skin (Nike’s Dry Fit are a good choice) and layer up. Personal trainers say aim for three layers of clothes that you can peel off as you warm up.
Wear mittens because they are warmer than gloves, and top off your outfit with earmuffs and a hat to keep heat from escaping through the top of your head.
Good traction shoes are essential. Hiking boots with good tread should give you traction for your winter walk, or consider investing in some shoe traction add-ons. I like the straps that simply wrap around the shoe because they are simple to get on and slip easily into a pocket when you don’t need them.
3. Don’t layer your socks. This will give you blisters. Wear thin socks instead that are designed to keep your feet warm and dry. I love the Voxx Terra Outdoor boot sock. It will keep your feet warm and dry, and it has the added bonus of HTP technology which will improve your strength and balance.
4.Walk at a moderate or slow pace. Winter paths can be icy. The bigger your strides, the higher your risk of falling. A longer warm up is also a good idea. This will reduce your risk of sprains and strains.
5. Walk with a friend. Going out with a friend will make your walk more fun, and increase your chances of sticking to your winter walking plan. Not wanting to let a friend down is a great motivator to show up. You can join a walking club to find potential partners, or look for local Facebook or Meetup.com groups.
6. Be Safe. Wear brightly coloured clothing and reflective gear for visibility, make sure you tell somebody your route and always carry a cell phone. Many trails have maps posted at their entrance, which you can photograph with your phone. It is very easy to get “turned around” in the woods.
Even when you take all these precautions, sometimes it is simply safer to exercise indoors. The Mayo Clinic suggests that when the temperature drops below 0 F (-17.8 C) look for an indoor activity instead. Try an indoor walking track, log your time on a treadmill or grab some weights.
And remember, spring will be here before we know it and it will be time to start focusing on how to stay cool!