As the hours of daylight drop in winter so can our enthusiasm for exercise, and even the most hardened runners and cyclists can have a tough time when the temperature plummets. Staying active in the cooler months helps to improve our energy levels and mood, though, so to help you stay safe and on the move here are 5 top tips for cold weather exercise.
- Layer Up!
You may be surrounding by people grumbling about the cold but once you start climbing that hill you’ll soon be working up a sweat. Layers aren’t just for the fashionable, they’re essential for exercising in the fall and winter as multiple layers means you can quickly cool down during a strenuous stretch and then seal in that heat by adding a layer of clothing as you barrel down the hill into an icy wind.
- Warm Up and Warm Down!
Your muscles will really complain if you go from a cold standstill to a demanding full out run. Make sure to do at least five minutes of stretching, increasing in intensity, before even thinking about tackling that hill on your bike or running around the seawall. Then, when you get home, make sure to stretch again as otherwise your muscles can cool down too quickly and cramp up.
- Get Reflective!
It’s always good to reflect on your actions, but that’s not what this tip is about. Make sure you are visible to drivers and other road users by sticking strategically placed reflective strips on your bike panniers, cycling clothes, running shoes, bike helmet, and even your backpack, especially if you tend to run at dawn or dusk as these are times when poor visibility and tired eyes increase the risk of accidents.
- Buddy Up!
Not only is it easier to rouse yourself from a warm and cosy bed when you know your running partner is waiting for you, it’s also a good idea to avoid running alone in the dark. Consider joining a running group for motivation and safety, or at least make sure someone knows your route and that you have a check-in buddy for the end of your run.
- Get a Grip!
Your summer cycling and running gear might not be best suited to exercising in winter, when roads and sidewalks can become slippery with frost and ice. Treat yourself to some shoes with a better grip, and check the tread on your bike tires to make sure you’re not liable to slip and slide.
These are just a few ways of staying safe and active when exercising in cold weather, but don’t forget that this is the perfect time of year to try out something new. Maybe you can switch your daily runs for indoor climbing. Perhaps it’s time to try out seasonal sports like cross-country skiing or snowboarding. Or, how about joining a snowshoeing group so you can see those hills and mountains in a whole new light?
What’s your favourite way to stay fit during winter months? Let us know in the comments below!