Exercising outside during the winter months is a great way to stay fit and enjoy the fresh air – you just need to be prepared for the elements. Here are ten tips to make sure you maximize your winter workouts while being safe and comfortable (and hopefully having some fun!)
Top Ten Tips for exercising outdoors in New England winters:
1. Be Seen – Manchester resident and USATF Running Coach, Sheri Aggarwal, coaches her runners about the importance of visibility in the dark winter months. She says “while headlamps are helpful to see the road, it’s even more important that cars see you. Reflective clothing or even light-up clothing is essential. Wear bright colors to avoid danger, high snow banks may impair drivers’ vision.” Parker Harrison, a local cyclist, manages to win the “best dressed” award at the annual cycling party! While we all laugh about it, Parker is the most visible guy on the road. He may look like a Christmas tree but you won’t miss him.
2. Work out with a buddy or two – small groups are much easier to see than a lone warrior. In addition to the visibility factor, having a friend in the wings waiting for you keeps you honest. You are less likely to hit the snooze button!
3. Keep your extremities toasty – feet, hands and head! Choose warm socks, mittens, baklavas and hats that wick away moisture. Select appropriate footwear, such as shoes with mesh let the wind in. Try Gore-Tex uppers or shoe coverings with materials that are water resistant and wind repellent. Dress in layers but avoid overdressing – a good rule of thumb is to dress for temps approximately 20 degrees warmer that what the thermometer reads.
4. Warm up in advance – before heading out doors, get your body moving. It’s not necessary to sweat but aim to raise your core temperature. Dynamic warm ups are best, i.e. jump rope, march in place, sun salutations.
5. Mind the wind – organize your route so the wind is at your back toward the end of our workout. There’s nothing worse than having the wind at your face when you’re sweaty and tired. Use a moisturizer such as BodyGlide or Vaseline for exposed skin.
6. Focus on maintenance not performance – the winter is not the time to increase your speed or performance. You work harder in cold temps just to stay warm. Save performance strategies for the warmer, nicer days ahead in the spring.
7. Change immediately – get those wet clothes off post workout and drink something warm – a cup of coffee, green tea, or hot cocoa do wonders to bring your core temperature up!
8. KISS principle – Keep it simple, safe! To avoid an injury, wear the appropriate shoes, ice spikes, snow shoes or boots.
9. Cyclists prepare your bike – Patrick and Pete, bike mechanics from Seaside Cycle, stress the importance of bike preparation and maintenance “use fenders, consider taking some air of your tires or selecting a bigger tire when possible, use lights in the front and back, and most importantly keep your machine clean. You will no doubt pick up salt and sand from the road, this will effect your ability to shift and to brake. Always clean your bike after each road ride and lube it up or bring it in to the shop for a tune up.”
10. Enjoy the scenery– yes Manchester by-the-Sea is picture perfect and when you are prepared physically for the environment, it’s an emotional high to get outdoors. As local athlete and team captain of the 4 C’s Cycle club, Terry Cowman says, “outdoor workouts beat indoor or solo workouts anytime, and then we have something to talk about when it’s done!”