Outdoor workouts all winter long.
The Markwell Fitness guide to working out outdoors in winter
Winter is fast approaching; mornings are getting chillier and evenings noticeably darker, but rather than heading to the safety of the gym (or the sofa) for the season, try following some of the below tips to help you make the most of the those beautiful crisp winter mornings that Britain does best!
Invest in some good clothing:
Rather than plonking on a t shirt and a giant coat, try to dress in layers that you can remove as you get hot and sweaty, and put back on as you cool down. Try some different clothing combinations to find something that feels good and works for you and your workout intensity. Perhaps consider wearing a thin layer of synthetic material as a base layer, to draw sweat away from your body (avoid cotton, which stays wet next to your skin), then add a layer of fleece for insulation, topped with a breathable, waterproof jacket. You might want to consider packing an extra jumper or jacket that you can put on to keep you warm until you get home.
Make sure your shoes are fit for the job
Check that footwear has enough grip to prevent falling (especially in the depths of winter when it’s icy or snowy). Consider buying shoes that are waterproof for extra comfort, and maybe buy them half a size too big to make space for thick thermal socks to keep warm.
Keep your extremities warm
Particularly if you have bad circulation, or a condition such as Raynaud’s disease, it’s important to make sure you wear thick, warm socks, good gloves (maybe even two pairs, a thin pair under a thicker pair that you can remove if you get hot), and a warm hat or headband to keep your ears warm.
Change up your routine
If your normal routine is a bit stop/start, e.g. mixing walking with sprinting, be aware that this might make you more vulnerable to the cold as you keep warming up and getting cold. Perhaps try taking your intensity down a little and maintaining a constant pace so you keep moving. If you’re exercising outdoors you may find it best to eliminate any floor work / mat based stretches from your routine until you get home and do that part in the warm.
When you’re planning your workout / exercise programme, start to consider what time of the day you can work out. Maybe dark evening workouts will have to change and make way for a few earlier starts, or lunchtime runs. If you want to stick to the evenings, then make sure that wherever you’re headed has plenty of lighting and consider wearing some reflective clothing. Check the weather forecast to make sure you plan your workouts for the best days possible.
It’s just as easy to get dehydrated in the winter as the summer, but the danger is that we don’t tend to feel it quite the same. Ensure you continue to drink just as much water as you usually would. And if you’re in an outdoor exercise session / class it might be nice to treat yourself and pack a flask with some hot tea, ready for the walk home!
As with every exercise programme, there are certain risks to training outdoors in winter (outweighed by the great feeling you get afterwards in my opinion), however, always remain sensible. If you have any specific conditions, especially heart or chest conditions (such as asthma), always speak to your doctor before starting and listen to your body.
Hopefully you’ll be joining Markwell:FITNESS on our outdoor training revolution - please make any comments, or share your pictures of your outdoor workouts throughout the autumn and into this winter!