Weathering the cold for exercise

 Weathering the cold for exercise

The mercury's going down a little bit each day, but that doesn't mean you should hole up at home and avoid outdoor activity at all costs. Being a girl of the Canadian prairies, I know what it's like to venture outside in way-below-freezing temperatures and trust me, as long as you do it right, it's not all that bad.

Don't get me wrong -- summer is my favourite season, but one of my favourite outdoor activities, skiing, can only be done when it's cold out and I've never let the winter get in my way. Unless it's the kind of cold that can give you frostbite if you're skin's exposed for less than a minute -- I have to draw the line somewhere.

Weathering the cold for exercise

But if you're venturing out in the cold, you need to be prepared, and dressing well is key. One problem when exercising in the cold is that once your blood gets flowing, you heat up quickly and that parka will soon be way too hot for you -- that's why layering is so important. Here are things to consider when layering, according to Glee Magazine:

  1. The base layer should be some sort of thermal wicking fabric that can take moisture from your skin and help it evaporate. Thermal underwear is perfect for this, and I've always found that a quality turtleneck works great too. Wool is naturally wicking and very warm, so it's a great material to use, especially for socks.
  2. The middle layer should be insulating -- that is, it helps trap your body heat. It should be somewhat loose to allow air flow. Sweaters, sweatshirts, vests and fleeces work well. Fleece especially helps -- it's lightweight, quick to dry and quite warm.
  3. The top layer, not surprisingly, should be waterproof. But it's also important to make sure it's windproof too -- so be sure to be discerning when you shop for a jacket -- cute doesn't cut it our in the cold.
  4. Accessories are important too -- particularly hats, as you can lose 60% of your body heat through your head. Other things to consider are your hands and feet -- you want wicking inner layers and waterproof out layers. And don't forget about your eyes -- the sun is just as strong in the winter!
  5. Never wear jeans or cotton -- they're restrictive, and if they get wet, they get heavy and take forever to dry.

Ok, now that we've got the what to wear bit out of the way, let's talk about what to do in the snow. Have you ever considered:

  1. Skiing and snowboarding? Down hill and cross-country skiing both great calorie burners, but especially cross-country. Cross-country skiing can also be relatively inexpensive, as you can do it almost anywhere there's a vast expanse of space.
  2. Ice skating? Ice skating is fun, albeit a little bit embarrassing if it's your first time out.
  3. Sledding? True, riding down a hill on your butt is easy but hiking back up that hill sure isn't. Save your money and avoid those hills that will tow you up -- do the work yourself for extra calorie burn
  4. Cutting your own Christmas tree? Our family does this every year and it's fun! Plus it's a killer workout lugging the tree back to your car

What's your favourite way to stay fit in the winter?

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