Winter Fitness Wellness Tips

Working out in winter, especially with many gyms closed or operating at a limited capacity, it can feel like you don’t have many good options. But the truth is, exercising in the cold has some benefits over outdoor exercise in summer. But it also has its dangers and there are certain things you should be doing to stay safe. Read on to learn more.

Benefits of Exercising in the Cold

There are a few advantages to getting nice and sweaty out in the snow. First, in colder temperatures, you can train longer because you are not using as much energy overall. However, cold weather does make your heart work harder (a good thing for building heart muscles!). Training in the cold also burns more calories. And finally, working out outside in winter gives us a chance to absorb vitamin D (from sunshine), an important nutrient crucial to bone health.

Dangers of Exercising in the Cold

Just as there are advantages to working out in the cold, there are also dangers. Cold weather inhibits your thirst mechanism, so stay hydrated even if you don’t feel thirsty. Cold temperatures tighten muscles so it’s important to do a warm-up inside first. Try a combo of 20 squats, 20 heel raises, and 20 lunges (10 each leg), before going outside to exercise. 

Another thing to watch for is barometric pressure. A drop in barometric pressure (such as right before the onset of cold temperatures) can cause gases and fluids within the joints to expand, putting pressure on nerves and resulting in pain. With certain foot and ankle conditions, nerves can become overly sensitive to the cold because of this inflammation. In addition, the fluid of our joints acts as a shock absorber, but in cold weather this fluid may thicken, leaving us with stiff-feeling joints.

Tips for Exercising in the Cold

If you’re going to exercise outside this winter, use these important safety tips to ensure you’re staying healthy and happy. First, never exercise in the cold alone. Not only can working out with a buddy keep you safe in case something happens (like a slip and fall), but they can also act as an accountability partner to get you outside on those frigid days when you’d rather be lazy. 

It’s also a good idea to keep winter workouts short, which you can do by minimizing your resting periods between exercises. Another great way to retain warmth during a winter workout is to choose a time in the middle of the day when it’s warmest and the sun is brightest.

If working out in the cold is too difficult or just not your thing, consider a different type of winter exercise. Take dancing lessons with your significant other, try indoor rock climbing, or just make a simple indoor workout you can do at home, such as a core-centered routine.

Whatever type of exercise you choose, be sure to stay safe this winter and keep your feet and ankles healthy. If you need a foot doctor in Central Ohio due to a winter exercise injury, call the FAAWC today.

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