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.

What Should I Feed My Young Athlete?

It’s official, Fall sports are under way. To millions of parents, Fall is full of dropping off/picking up kids at practice and enduring lots of very cold games. You’re a tough group, and we salute you! While we can’t help with the driving or cold weather, we can help with getting your kids primed for the field. We asked our licensed nutritionist to give some tips about what to put in the diet of your little athlete. Hopefully, you can use these tips to help your child grow, develop, and perform on the field!

Step 1: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

It all starts with lots of fluids. To avoid dehydration, be sure to include low-fat milk and water with meals. Kids produce more body heat, sweat less and dehydrate more easily than adults, so young athletes should sip water throughout their workouts.

Step 2: Give the right “pre-game” meal before exercise

For best results, a pre-exercise meal should be consumed 2-3 hours before exercising. Ideally, this meal will be high in carbohydrates and moderate in protein and healthy fats. Here are some examples of pre-exercise meals that will let them fire on all cylinders:

  • A baked potato with a little cheese (don’t go overboard), chicken, baked beans, and fresh fruit
  • A turkey, chicken, or tuna sandwich on whole wheat bread
  • Hamburger made with extra lean beef, loaded with lettuce and tomatoes
  • Low-sugar cereals or oatmeal, with milk and fruit 
  • Spaghetti with tomato based sauce and extra lean beef, steamed vegetables, and citrus fruit 

Step 3: Provide high-carb snacks to eat immediately before or during exercise

A pre-exercise snack can be eaten within an hour of exercise. You’ll want this snack to be pretty light and easy to digest. These snacks should be heavy in carbohydrates and low in added sugar to give your child sustained energy on the field. Let your child experiment with different foods to discover which snacks provide the best energy. Here are some ideas for pre-exercise snacks:

  • Fresh or dried fruit
  • Wheat toast with a little honey
  • Pancakes with syrup or fresh fruit
  • Graham crackers or whole wheat fig bars
  • Cereal or granola bars

 Step 4: Recovery

Recovery foods are just as important as the foods eaten before exercise. Eating a snack with carbohydrates and a small amount of protein immediately after a long workout can help restore energy in muscles. For ideal results, offer your athlete a recovery snack immediately after exercise, and follow it up with a nourishing recovery meal within the next couple of hours. Here are some ideas for recovery snacks:

  • Milk (chocolate milk is great immediately after exercise)
  • Yogurt based fruit smoothie
  • Yogurt and a whole wheat bagel or English muffin
  • Brown rice and beans, or a low-fat bean burrito
  • Vegetable stir-fry with brown rice

To all the parents out there, if you have a proven food or drink that does wonders for your child, please share your tips here.