Tips to Stay Warm During a Cold Weather Workout

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A cold day for a run!

In the winter months, staying warm is on the top of our priority list. But don’t let less desirable weather dampen your motivation to move. Learning how to stay warm when the weather turns chilly will keep your winter workouts from getting stale.
Layer Up
In the winter, it’s all about layers. Exercise generates a lot of heat, so dressing in layers is the key to keeping your body temperature in a desirable range. Keep in mind that stop-and-go activities, such as mixing walking with running, can make you vulnerable to the cold if you repeatedly work up a sweat and then get chilly. Dress in layers that you can remove as soon as you start to sweat, and then put them back on as needed. For the truly cold day, here are a few suggestions:

  • Start off with a moisture wicking top. Synthetic material, such as polypropylene, draws sweat away from your body, unlike cotton, which stays wet next to your skin.
  • Next, wear a long-sleeved, mid-weight, base-layer shirt made from either non-itchy merino wool or polyester.
  • For your feet and lower leg, wear moisture wicking socks that go up to your knee to keep your calves warm, like lightweight ski socks.
  • Wear warm running tights.
  • Over the long-sleeve shirt, wear a fitted, wind-stopping softshell.
  • Wear running gloves or liners to protect your hands.
  • Put on a lightweight hat that so your head doesn’t get too sweaty.
  • Also consider a fleece neck warmer. Not only will it keep your neck and chin warm, but it’ll prevent burning lungs.
  • Facial sunscreen and lip balm with SPF is also a must, as are sunglasses to protect your eyes, since sun reflecting off white snow can be blinding.
  • Of course, you’ll need some good running sneakers.

Warm Up
It’s important to warm up before any workout. Get your blood flowing and muscles loose by warming up indoors first.

Get Outside
Now it’s time to brave the actual workout. Cold-weather workouts present extra challenges:

  • When it’s windy outside, make sure to head into the wind first. It will decrease your chances of frostbite.
  • Roads can be slippery and earlier sunsets can make for darker runs. Invest in a head lamp and reflective gear.
  • Protect your hands, feet, and ears. When it’s cold, blood flow is concentrated on your body’s core, leaving your hands and feet vulnerable to frostbite.

Drink Plenty of Fluids
You need to stay well hydrated when exercising in cold weather, just as you do when exercising in warm weather.

Putting It All Together
Remember to continually monitor how your body feels to help prevent cold-weather injuries, such as frostbite. Consider shortening your outdoor workout or skipping it altogether during weather extremes.

Also, almost everyone can exercise safely during cold weather. But if you have certain conditions, such as asthma, heart problems, or Raynaud’s disease, check with your doctor before you work out in cold weather. Your doctor can review any special precautions you need based on your condition or medications you might take.

Introducing the 31 Day Push-Up Challenge

Cartoon-Character-Strength-Comparison-MeterI do not have “blasted pipes.” I don’t have “fiery cannons,” “explosive guns,” or “screaming pythons.” As you can clearly see in the “Cartoon Upper Body Strength” meter, I’m sitting somewhere between Olive Oil and Bugs Bunny. For a dude in his twenties, that’s not good.

But as it turns out, I’m not alone in my quest to have a shredded, “I look like I’m carved out of rich mahogany” upper body. Since there are no motivators like peer pressure and competition, a December gauntlet was thrown down. Along with a few of my friends, we created the “31 Day Push-Up Challenge.”

Here are the rules of the 31 Day Push-Up Challenge:

  1. The challenge runs from December 1 – December 31
  2. Participants can only do push-ups in two minute time increments
  3. Depending on your starting ability, the number of allowable sets per day will vary (I’ll explain this below)
  4. All push-ups must be “proper push-ups” (No saggy backs or downward dogs!)
  5. All tracking is done by participants, and it’s the honor system

Rule number 3 was developed to level the playing field. One guy in our challenge looks like he’s half rhino, and could easily do more push-ups in a two minute time period than anyone else. To even things out, we handicapped it so if you can’t knock out a pile of push-ups all at once, you’re allowed to do more sets in a day. For example: Rhino Man is only allowed to do 5 sets per day, while other participants can do 7. In theory, it makes it fair, but it takes more dedication from the weaker participants.

We’re on our 4th day of the challenge, and my arms already feel like they’ve been repeatedly thunder punched. But more surprisingly, my abs are screaming at me! While the quest was for Stallone arms, the core strength benefits from push-ups are a great side effect.

If I can still lift my arms high enough to type, I plan to track our progress on MillionIdeas.org. But in the meantime, wish us luck! Oh, and to all my co-workers that find me doing push-ups in hallways, elevators, and at my desk; I’m not insane, I’ve just got a challenge to win!

Current push-up total: 576

If you’d like to hop on board the 31 Day Push Up Challenge, we’d love to have you! But to make sure you’re doing a proper push-up, here’s a quick video from our physical therapy expert and guest blogger, Colin Hoobler.