As we enter the winter months, everything begins to slow down around us. Activities that used to take no time at all can become more of a chore. Even something as simple as going out requires you to put on multiple layers of clothing to keep yourself warm.
Although being outside can be tough, it isn’t all bad. It can actually be one of the best time’s of the year to go out and exercise. Activities like running in cold weather force the heart to work harder to distribute blood in the body, which can actually make heart muscles stronger. Saying that though, we only recommend running during the winter to already active people, not to those who are inactive or recovering from a heart attack or cardiac arrest. Strenuous activity like running or snow shovelling during the winter can be very dangerous to individuals who are not used to regular physical activity.
To help distinguish what exercises you should do during the winter, we have compiled tips for active and inactive people.
Helpful tips for people with a heart illness or who are inactive
If you’re someone who has recently suffered from some sort of heart illness, first and foremost we recommend speaking with your doctor about an exercise plan. They know your health condition the best and will be able to recommend proper exercises for you as you transition back into a normal routine.
For inactive people or those who are recovering from a heart illness, we recommend beginning with some form of aerobic exercise to get your heart and lungs active again. Start slowly, and work your way up. Exercises such as swimming, light jogging or walking three to four times a week can be beneficial to you building up your heart muscles.
During the winter, we recommend walking to be your primary outdoor activity. It’s the easiest exercise to transition into and will allow you to slowly build up your aerobic activity.
As you adapt to exercising, begin trying more intensive forms of exercise. This may require you to perform exercises indoors until you’re strong enough to do more outdoors.
Indoor exercises/sports to build up your strength
- Chest stretches
- Wall presses
- Light-weight lifting
Tips for active people exercising outdoors
There are many benefits to working out outside during the winter. The main being, that you’ll strengthen your heart. You’ll also burn more calories, build a stronger tolerance to the cold and get a healthy dose of vitamin D.
There’s no shortage of activities/sports to do outdoors during the winter, but here are some of the most popular ones.
- Cross-country skiing
Although there are many benefits to exercising outdoors there are a number of factors that you should consider as well.
Factors to consider when exercising outdoors
Dressing to workout in the winter can be difficult initially, but it’s all about finding the right materials that will help to keep you be comfortable. We recommend layering your clothes with moisture-wick fabrics that will help keep your body at a healthy temperature. The best items of clothing are the ones that will work to keep you warm but will also allow you to cool down. An example would be a jacket that has air flaps that can also be sealed back up with a zipper.
It’s one of the most important things to consider when exercising outdoors. Although it may seem like you’re not losing much sweat compared to when you workout in the summer, the sweat on your body evaporates at a very quick rate in the dry winter air. To prevent this make sure to drink water before, during and after cold-weather workouts to stay hydrated.
Warming up and cooling down
Properly warming up and cooling down should already be a part of your workout, but it’s even more important when it’s cold outside. You need to engage, warm up and energize your muscles before your workout. You want to make sure that you’re keeping your core body temperature elevated. Doing this also helps to prevent injuries from occurring like painful twists, sprains, and tears during your workout.