Interested in Muscle Activation Techniques® (MAT®) certification? Part of the job of a MAT® certified professional is educating clients on proper exercise. With winter quickly approaching, the following are some cold weather exercise tips to remember.
Keeping your body in shape is incredibly important to your health in general, but specifically in the areas of mobility and muscle development. Staying consistent with your physical activity levels is crucial to achieving your personal fitness goals and should be prioritized for your long-term quality of life. However, there are certain times of year that may be easier to exercise in than others. Temperature and moisture levels can have a significant effect on the way you work out, particularly if you are someone who enjoys doing physical activity outdoors. Cold weather can be a difficult challenge when motivating yourself, but it also presents some unique challenges to physical effects. Let’s take a look at some exercise tips you will want to keep in mind so that you can keep up the good work even if temperatures are cold.
Tip #1: Benefits of Cold Weather Workouts
It can certainly be tempting to snuggle up, stay in, and skip your workout when the weather outside gets cold. Motivating yourself to brave the cold might not be easy, but there are some pretty good reasons to do it. It might help to know that there are some proven benefits to prioritizing your physical activity when it starts to get colder. It can be a tremendous help if you are hoping to combat the holiday weight gain that is often associated with this time of year. The added element of physical stress the cold weather gives can help you burn more calories during your workout.
Being outdoors and in the sun, even if it is cold outside, can help improve your mood and outlook. Just because the sun isn’t as warm doesn’t mean it has lost its ability to deliver vitamin D. Extreme weather workouts can also help increase your physical endurance and has been proven to increase mental acuity. Exercise and keeping your body strong are also an important part of maintaining a strong immune system to help fight off viruses and disease. Winter months can mean flu, cold and other illness outbreaks that you should try to avoid, so keeping your body active and strong is of importance during this time of year.
Tip #2: Become Familiar with The Weather in Your
The first step to productive and safe outdoor winter exercise is to know a little bit about the conditions you will be exercising in. Knowing the local weather can help you make informed decisions about your outdoor routine. It will also inform what you decide to wear so that you can better protect your body. Colder months can look very different depending on where you happen to live and can even vary significantly from year to year in the same region. So, it is important that you take a moment to learn a little bit about where you are and what the upcoming weather is predicted to be so that you can keep yourself healthy and safe.
You may want to ask things like:
- Is there a lot of moisture during the cold season where you are?
- Is there a danger of slipping on ice?
- Do you need any protective workout gear?
- What time of day would be best for my workout?
- Will it be dangerous to be outdoors for prolonged periods of time?
These are the kinds of things you should take into account whether you are a frequent outdoor person or an indoor person. You can start by taking a quick look at the weather where you’re at on your phone, computer, or TV if you are in unfamiliar territory and need a tip or two. That should at least give you a pretty good place to start from. Then you can begin thinking about your specific, individual workout in the context of the current weather conditions.
Tip #3: Never Skip Your Warm-Up
This is a prominent part of making sure that you are being safe when you are exercising in colder weather. Going right into a cold workout with cold muscles is a bad idea. It may even be a good idea to consider taking more time than you normally do for your outdoor workout warm-ups during the winter season. Don’t start working your muscles if you haven’t even bothered to wake them up properly.
Stretching and alerting your muscles to upcoming activity is an important part of all exercise, especially if you plan on exercising in the cold. Be methodical and intentional about each of your warm-up exercises. Be mindful of your support and your symmetry. Even, uniform movements are important at the very beginning. Warming up before you exercise in cold weather will help your muscles support and fully facilitate your movements rather than having to focus on acclimating to activity while also adjusting to the temperature shift.
Tip #4: Dress for Your Weather and Your Workout
The way you dress when you exercise can have a more serious effect on your workout than you might initially think. Your mobility and comfort are important when you are trying to concentrate on muscle development and strength training. In addition to considering the level of mobility and comfort your fitness wardrobe provides, cold weather workouts give you the added element of the outdoor temperature to consider. There are a few key things you will want to keep in mind to make sure that you are staying safe while also maximizing your cold weather workouts.
Wear Removable Layers
When you first brave the cold, you will want to make sure that your muscles are warm and well insulated from the cold weather. This means making sure there is a substantially thick layer helping to keep your body heat in while keeping the cold air and moisture out. But as you begin to engage your body and exert energy your body will quickly begin to heat up from the muscle contractions. It usually doesn’t take very long before you start to work up a sweat, even if it’s snowing outside. Being overly bundled when you are working out can end up being as dangerous as under-insulating, so you have to be careful.
Dressing too warmly in thick clothing can backfire and make you sweat too much as you move. This can leave you dehydrated, overly fatigued, and at a potential risk for hypothermia in wet clothes. A tip for avoiding these dangers and finding a workable balance is to wear several different layers that you will be able to remove and replace throughout various stages of your workout. This will allow you to keep your muscles at a more constant temperature and more uniformly engaged.
Choose Shoes with Good Traction
This is an important tip for all exercise, whether it is indoor, outdoor, cold weather, or warm weather. However, it is exceptionally important during colder months. This is particularly true if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow and ice throughout the winter. The risk of a slip-and-fall increases with slick and uneven surfaces. Slipping and falling has the potential to do serious damage to your body that may be difficult to recover from. It can also deal a serious setback to your physical fitness and mobility goals, even if the damage is fairly minor.
Choosing shoes that give you the proper foot support along with the proper traction can provide a positive outdoor workout. If you aren’t sure what you need or have questions about certain movements, a tip from a professional never hurts. Don’t be afraid to ask your MAT® certified trainer or other fitness professional for recommendations or advice on safe, supportive footwear.
Remember to Protect Your Extremities
Pain can create tension, even if it is indirect. For example, if you feel your fingers aching because they are getting cold you may have the urge to tense your arms in a way that provides support or relief to your hands. Likewise, if your ears become cold it can cause the muscles in your shoulders to unevenly tense in an effort to keep your head and ears warmer. The details of your winter workout attire can have an impact on your muscle health during exercises of all kinds, so you should go out of your way to consider all your body parts. Even the ones you won’t necessarily be directly engaging during your workout. A tip that may help you in the beginning is to think about dressing yourself from head to toes until your workout wardrobe choices become more familiar and intuitive to the weather.
There will always be a reason not to work out if you are looking for one. Cold temperatures and less-than-perfect weather can deter you from prioritizing your development and fitness the way you deserve. These suggestions, reminders, and tips can help you rise to the occasion during cold weather months
Did learning about cold weather exercise tips interest you? Interested in learning more about Muscle Activation Techniques® (MAT®)? This 36 college credit program to becoming an MAT® Specialist can be completed in as few as 4 quarters*. This program is offered online with a lab component at the end of each quarter. This program is 4 continuous quarters over the course of 12 months: Lower Body, Upper Body, Trunk and Spine, and Cervical, Hand/Foot. Financial aid is available for those who qualify.
Contact us today to learn more about becoming Muscle Activation Techniques® certified.