by Mary Gillis, Anything But The Gym
Just because it’s cold and even snow outside doesn’t mean that you have to take your exercise routine indoors. Here, Mary shares some tips and facts on how to keep your workouts fun and safe outdoors:
1. Embrace the cold months as an opportunity to mix up your workouts.
Try ice-skating, cross country skiing, snowboarding, even snowmobiling or ice fishing. (Yes, ice fishing!) These activities are fun, challenging and a great reminder that you don’t have to be confined to a gym all winter. Plus, the novelty offers a great change of pace from regular activities (such as walking, running, cycling) which helps to improve overall body mechanics, strength and flexibility.
2. It’s not dangerous.
One thing which might surprise many of us is that it’s actually safer to exercise in cold weather than it is to exercise in hot weather. Why? Well, under heat stress our bodies can only handle an increase of up to 5 degrees Celsius in core temperature before we become overheated, fatigued and have to stop. However, under cold stress, our bodies can tolerate a decline of up to 10 degrees Celsius. That’s twice as much!
3. Winter’s metabolic boost.
Cold stress induces a higher exercise oxygen consumption than would occur performing the same exercise in a warmer environment. Increased oxygen consumption translates into a higher caloric expenditure for each bout of exercise. In addition, prolonged cold stress also increases thyroxin production — the thyroid hormone known to increase metabolic rate.
4. Scarves and hats and gloves — oh my!
Wear scarves to protect your respiratory tract. Warming the incoming air improves the body’s ability to retain moisture and remain hydrated. Choose a hat or some sort of facial protective gear to provide insulation to the head. And gloves and thick socks are a must until your body’s peripheral circulation (the circulation to the hands and feet) acclimates to the cold weather exposure.
Mary Gillis is an ACE certified personal trainer and an Applied Physiology doctoral student at Columbia University. She is a former division 1 track and field athlete, figure competitor and triathlete. In spring 2009 Mary launched Anything But The Gym, an innovative New York-based health and fitness company. www.anythingbutthegym.com