Seven tips for exercising in cold weather

Jan 26, 2022

Maybe you set a New Year’s goal to exercise more this year. Maybe you find yourself following an exercise routine regularly throughout the year – except those few cold winter months. Whatever your goal is, don’t let cold weather be an excuse to not walk the neighborhood or go to the gym on a chilly morning. Michelle LaFleur

“It is important to keep up your exercise routine during cold winter months for several reasons,” says Michelle LaFleur, exercise specialist at the St. Joseph’s/Candler Wellness Center and professional runner. “Exercise increases blood flow and circulation to all areas of the body. This leads to a stronger immune system which can be compromised during winter months. Building your immunity can help combat colds and flu which are in season right now.”

Related Article: 12 ways to keep your immune system happy and healthy

If you’re careful, you can still work out when the weather turns chilly. Here are seven tips to not let cold weather put a freeze on your exercise routine:

  1. Wear the right clothing
    When exercising outside, clothing is critical – year round. In cold weather, consider wearing fabrics like lightweight polyester, polypropylene or moisture-wicking materials. These are better insulators than cotton. Also, don’t overdress. You can overheat, even in below-freezing temperatures. If you start to sweat a lot, and cold wind hits, that perspiration will evaporate and could cause chills. You may want to consider dressing in layers to limit perspiration.
  2. Speaking of layers
    Layering is key. Wear a synthetic material against your skin. This will allow the sweat to pass through the fabric away from your body. The second layer should be wool, polyester or fleece for primary insulation. A third layer should be chosen for its ability to keep out the cold air, wind and/or rain. Keep this layer lightweight and synthetic. Layering your clothing helps regulate your temperature, and allows you to strip off a layer if you get too warm.
  3. From the top to the bottom
    A full head of hair or not, you can lose a tremendous amount of heat through your uncovered head, so wear a hat, cap or hood. Your feet actually tend to get cold first. Be sure to wear the right boots or shoes and insulate them with warm socks – and keep your socks dry. Additionally, your hands tend to be susceptible to cold. On really cold days, gloves or mittens should be worn before your hands become cold.
  4. Stay hydrated
    Even in cold weather, it’s important to stay hydrated. If you can see your breath or begin to sweat, that’s moisture leaving your body. Drink plenty of fluids, especially if the air is cold and dry. Drink water before you go out and bring some with you.
  5. Don’t overdo it
    Cold and exercise can both be stresses on the body. Especially if you are new to exercising, talk to your healthcare provider before starting a winter exercise routine. People who have diabetes, take certain medications or older adults are at greater risk that their body temperature will drop in cold weather, and they too should consult a healthcare provider before starting an exercise program.
  6. Warm up before exercising
    Stretching and warming up before you start any type of exercise is always important, but even more so when it gets cold. Be sure to stretch out your muscles to warm them up before exposing your body to the cool air.
  7. Consider joining our Wellness Center
    If you normally exercise outside, but find yourself doing less in the winter, consider joining a gym. The St. Joseph’s/Candler Wellness Center offers a state-of-the-art center with cardio equipment, resistance machines and free weights. We also offer numerous aerobic classes, such as circuit training, yoga, POUND, WERQ and others. Call us at 912-819-8800 for membership information.

“Just like brushing your teeth every day, exercise is body maintenance,” LaFleur says. “There are so many benefits to exercise, not just your overall physical health, but exercise increases your good mood producing natural endorphins. That’s important in winter months when it gets darker earlier.”


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