These chills are multiplying: Physically preparing to work out in colder weather
There’s an old saying that “Summer bodies are made in Winter.” And, while that may be true, other things that are made in winter are creamy soups, hearty pasta and delicious, warm, calorie-filled comfort food.
Here at Trojan, we don’t believe in denying ourselves the finer things in life. We believe in balance. That’s why we encourage you to take in all the carby, comfy treats you want over winter, but keep up your exercise routine so you don’t lose any progress or gains as the nights grow longer and the days grow colder.
The only issue with that? It’s difficult! Motivating yourself to do early-morning workouts outside or hit the gym when getting out of bed seems impossible. The colder weather will also likely make working out feel significantly different. We’ve been there, so we know how easy it can be to let that routine slide when winter starts to roll in. That’s why we’ve compiled this Winter Workouts 101 guide – so you can navigate winter fitness with ease.
What are the benefits of winter workouts?
Despite how daunting that pre-sunset wakeup can be, there are a surprising amount of benefits to working out in winter. We know, it may not feel like it at the time, but save this article to reread these benefits when you’re struggling to leave the warmth of your duvet.
– Improved endurance:
Exercising in cold weather can increase your endurance levels, as your body has to work significantly harder to maintain its core temperature. This can result in an increase in the number of calories burned and can improve your overall cardiovascular health. When you leave a winter workout season, your overall metrics in the summertime will be significantly raised, as you’re steadily raising your fitness baseline every time you work out in the cold.
– Increased calorie burn
Cold weather can cause your body to burn more calories, also because of the whole “maintaining-core-temperature” thing. This means that you may burn more calories during a workout in colder weather than in warmer weather. If your goal is burning fat, this is a huge bonus. Remember, “Dezemba body” can’t start in November! If you’re looking to put on weight, however, make sure you’re fuelling yourself with enough calories to prevent mass loss after exercising.
– Improved mental health
Exercising outdoors in colder weather can boost your mood and help reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. Have you ever heard of SAD? Appropriately, those letters stand for ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder,” which is a scientifically proven phenomenon in which certain people are much more prone to dips in mental well-being in colder weather due to decreased serotonin production. Endorphins brought on by exercise can help combat this, and the fresh air and natural light can also have a positive effect on your mental health.
– Increased motivation
On the other hand, if you find yourself struggling to exercise when it’s hot, the cooler temperatures can help you feel more energised and motivated to exercise. You may also feel a sense of accomplishment from exercising in less-than-ideal conditions. There’s something very “Bear Grylls” about pushing through the cold and nailing that workout.
– Reduced inflammation
Cold temperatures can help reduce inflammation in the body, which can be beneficial for those with chronic pain or conditions such as arthritis.
Dressing for cold-weather workouts
When dressing for cold weather workouts, it’s important to wear clothing that will keep you warm and comfortable without causing you to overheat. This can be a pretty delicate balance. There are loads of guides n “winter workout wear” online, but not too many that address South African winter specifically. That’s where we come in. Here are some tips for dressing appropriately for workouts in temperatures as low as -5 degrees Celsius, because that’s usually as bad as it gets here…
- Layer up:Wearing layers of clothing is key to staying warm in cold weather. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, such as thermal or compression gear, to keep sweat away from your skin. Then add a mid-layer, such as a fleece or a sweater, for insulation, and finish with a breathable outer layer, such as a windbreaker or jacket, to protect against wind and moisture. You don’t need hectic winter jackets if you’re going to be doing any cardio, because those will turn you into a walking sauna.
- Cover your extremities:Your hands, feet, and head are particularly susceptible to cold temperatures. Wear insulated gloves or mittens, thick socks or wool socks, and a beanie or headband to keep these areas warm. Buffs also work really well, and they have the side effect of making you look like an outdoors badass.
- Choose the right materials: Look for clothing made from breathable, moisture-wicking materials, such as wool or synthetic fabrics like polyester or nylon. Avoid cotton, as it can trap moisture and make you feel cold and clammy. Cotton can absorb up to about 25 times its weight in water, so soggy cotton might make your workout mega unpleasant.
- Consider the conditions:If it’s particularly windy or wet outside, you may need to add additional layers or choose more weather-resistant fabrics. Do a check on weather apps or head outside briefly before you gear up to best gauge how to dress.
Cold Weather Warm-Up and Workout Tips
When working out in cold weather, it’s important to take extra precautions to prevent injury and stay warm. Colder muscles need careful warming up, or strains and sprains become much more likely to occur. Follow these warm-up and workout tips to stay comfy and conditioned, all the way through the season:
– Warm-up indoors
Start your warm-up indoors to raise your body temperature and get your blood flowing. Do a few minutes of light cardio, such as jumping jacks, jogging in place, or cycling on a stationary bike. You can get a quality stationary bike from the Trojan range if you don’t have one yet.
– Stretch properly
Cold weather can cause your muscles to be tight, so it’s important to stretch properly before starting your workout. Focus on dynamic stretching, which involves moving your body through a range of motion, rather than static stretching, which involves holding a stretch in place. This can form part of the warmups you’re doing in the first step.
– Stay hydrated
It’s easy to forget about hydration in cold weather because you’re likely not as hot and sweaty as you would be in the sweltering summer. Hydration is, however just as important as in warmer weather. Drink water before, during, and after your workout to stay hydrated. Avoid coffee and tea before and after workouts. We know they’re comforting, but they act as diuretics, so they may act to dehydrate you significantly.
– Choose appropriate exercises
Some exercises may be more challenging in cold weather, such as outdoor yoga or Pilates, which require you to hold static poses. Think “frozen statue” vibes. Consider switching to more dynamic exercises, such as running or cycling, which keep your body moving.
– Dress appropriately: As mentioned earlier, it’s important to wear layers of clothing to stay warm, but you also want to avoid wearing too much, which can cause you to overheat. Dress in layers that can be easily removed or added as needed. Remember – you can always take off a layer, but you can’t add one you didn’t bring with you!
– Be mindful of your surroundings
In cold weather, your surroundings may be slippery or frosty, so be extra cautious when running or walking outdoors. Wear shoes with good traction and avoid uneven or icy surfaces. Keep an eye on the space ahead of you, especially if you’re running fast. A trip in the cold always feels like it stings a little more.
– Cool down properly
Just like with warm-up, it’s important to cool down properly after your workout. Gradually decrease your intensity and finish with some light stretching to help prevent injury and reduce muscle soreness. Cool-downs are always important, but especially in very cold weather, you must allow your body to gradually acclimatise to lower temperatures, rather than going straight from hot to cold.
Or… you could just stay inside and work out at your Trojan home gym.
We understand that getting out into the open can have its benefits, but you can achieve the exact same quality of workout in your own home! How? With an affordable, yet durable and versatile home gym setup from Trojan Health and Fitness!
Our wide range of products covers everything from weight machines and free weights to essential cardio machines and smaller gym equipment to make sports like Yoga and Pilates a total breeze. To see what we have on offer, simply visit our online catalogue.
You can also plan out your home gym virtually using our nifty online gym builder! Once you’ve settled on your setup, simply head to a Makro or Game near you and get shopping. All our products have a two-year warranty, so you’re guaranteed extended peace of mind.
Beat the chill and stay on form with Trojan today!