Outdoor Exercise in the Winter: Survival Guide!
Between the snow covered ground and the cold temperatures, many people head indoors to exercise over the winter months (or perhaps go into hibernation!). But why not get outside and take in some fresh air, sunshine and vitamin D?! Here are some tips for keeping your cardio workouts outdoors in the winter months!
- Wear a Buff
Taking in deep breaths in the cold, dry air of the winter is often enough to make a non-asthmatic feel like they are on the verge of an asthma attack. After all, cold constricts. By wearing a light, breathable layer over your mouth and nose, the air you inhale is warmed and moisture is added before it takes the journey down your bronchioles and into your lungs. The company “Buff” makes a great product that serves this purpose (As long as you wear it over your face and not as a tube-top like in the Survivor series!) There are lots of other great brands out there too. Try out a Buff for your winter workouts and your airways will thank you!
2) Do an indoor dynamic warm-up before heading outside
While there are many benefits to completing a dynamic warm-up before you jump into a workout, in the winter you may find it especially beneficial. Your body is smart, and when you enter a cold environment it prioritizes blood flow to your core to protect your vital organs – not in the muscles in your arms and legs. When you complete a dynamic warm-up, your heart rate and blood pressure will increase, and the capillaries in your periphery will open to allow increased blood flow to your muscles in use. By warming up before you open the door, you will help your muscles to have the fuel they need for an enjoyable workout, and you may avoid having frozen fingers and toes the entire time. Plus, you may not have to overdress and carry extra layers for the first few minutes.
3) Try alternatives to running, such as cross-country skiing or tobogganing intervals
With trails and sidewalks often being slick, and country road shoulders covered in snow, it can be difficult to find running routes that are consistently safe and enjoyable during the winter months. So why not embrace the snow and jump onto some cross-country skis for some amazing cardiovascular workouts? Afterall, cross-country skiers are often at the top of the
charts for VO2max. And if skiing alone isn’t a tough-enough workout for you, ask Julie about renting her kids (and trailer) for some resistance training!
Guelph has some great local options if you are looking for groomed ski trails. Check out Eden Mills Nordic (http://edenmillsnordic.blogspot.com/) just south-east of the city or Guelph Nordic Ski Club (http://www.guelphnordic.com/index.html) just north of the city. If you’re up for traveling, there are some fantastic ski trails just and hour or two north at Highlands Nordic (Duntroon), or Hardwood Hills (Barrie).
Not up for the skiing? Why not pull out that old sled and run intervals up your favourite tobogganing hill?! Best part: riding down the hill as the recovery! If you get 30 minutes of tobogganing intervals in, I guarantee you’ll be running in for a cold glass of water instead of hot chocolate!