The winter chill can make even looking out the window feel like you’re turning into an icicle, so it takes some serious mental power to exercise outside during the cooler months. However, getting your daily physical activity is essential for staying healthy and avoiding holiday stress. If you want to skip the cost of a gym membership but still work out, use these tips:
Get the right gear
Slipping on ice is a big concern during winter. After all, when you’re walking or running properly, you’re likely not looking at the ground. Even if you do sneak a peek at the sidewalk, you still can’t account for black ice. To avoid getting injured from a fall, wear shoes with non-slip bottoms. You can even buy chains that attach to the bottom of your shoes to create traction and reduce your risk of slipping. Otherwise, just go with a good pair of trail-running shoes.
Of course, it’s also important to dress warm enough for the weather so you don’t develop hypothermia on your morning jog. Opt for layers so you can shed them as you go since you’ll likely warm up once you start exerting energy. Don’t forget to protect areas that are especially susceptible to frostbite such as the ears and fingers.
“Warm ups can increase heart rate, circulation and body temperature.”
Prepare for both the low temperatures and your workout with a warm-up routine. According to Sports Medicine Information, aerobic exercises can increase your heart rate, circulation and body temperature, effectively providing extra warmth before you face the winter chill and allowing you to more readily get into a running rhythm. A bit of stretching in combination with cardiovascular exercises can increase your joint range of motion and prevent injury as well. This is especially important in winter, as you may overextend muscles or move awkwardly in an attempt to regain your balance when moving on ice.
Perform a general exercise warm up that targets all parts of your body. For instance, you can prepare your ankles for a workout with the ankle rocker. To do this, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and slowly rock back and forth from your toes to your heels. Repeat this movement for about 30 seconds. Get your upper body ready for exercise with arm circles. Again, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, this time extending your arms out to either side of you. Make slow, circular motions from your shoulders, going in each direction for about 30 seconds.
Pick a safe path
You can’t steer clear of every ice patch or pile of snow, but you should at least strategize your running path to avoid as many winter obstacles as possible. For example, while running up and down hills may have been a great way to burn those extra calories in the summer, it can be dangerous in the winter. It’s best to avoid this terrain altogether, advised Jan Ochocki, a coach with the Road Runners Club of America in Minneapolis.
“More falls happen on downhills because you naturally tend to pick up your pace, making it harder to stop when you hit an icy patch,” he told Fitness Magazine.
Additionally, stick to sidewalks instead of the street. Not only are these areas likely clearer than the road, but if you slip and can’t immediately get up, you’d be much safer out of the path of cars.
Don’t forget to unwind with your personal massager after your workout.