Cooler temperatures means we must adjust our training to suit the weather. Winter training is just as important as training in the summer. Whether it is your off season, mid-season, or if you are just playing sport or exercising recreationally. Various benefits are involved in exercising in the cold. Burning extra calories, increase cardiovascular workout and improved energy levels are just some of the benefits. There are still important factors to be cautious of with winter training, especially the risks of injury and performance. Below outlines some points to keep in mind when exercising in the cold.
1. Have a longer warm up
Sudden exercise at a higher intensity could increase the risk of injury significantly. This risk is even more significant in colder temperatures. It is natural for the body to be colder and take a little more time to warm up in winter. Take your time and don’t rush into exercising at a high intensity. Slower and smaller increments of intensity is a good way to slowly get to your working load or intensity. Some examples are increasing running speed by 2kph every 2 minutes or increasing weight by 2kg towards your working weight.
2. Stay warm with layers
A good long warm up will help you get ready for exercise, but staying warm during exercise is also just as important. Our body temperature will fluctuate more between hot and cool quickly through exercise if we take longer rest periods. One of the easiest methods to manage this is to dress in thinner layers of clothing rather than a thick layered jumper or jacket. As you start to heat up, remove layers when needed, then put layers back on when you start to cool down. It is advised to not wear cotton as the very bottom layer because cotton will absorb sweat and stay wet causing you to cool down quickly. Sweat wicking material is a good option. Keeping your hands, feet and ears warm will also help keep your body temperature more stable.
3. Understand symptoms of hypothermia
Hypothermia happens when the body temperature drops excessively low (~35oC). This is more common when the body is exposed to cold weathers for long periods. When this happens, the body will loose its ability to function properly and eventually ceasing to function completely. Common times this could happen includes early morning runs, outdoor gym settings, or heavily airconditioned gyms.
Symptoms of hypothermia include:
- Excessive shivering
- Slurring when speaking
- Shallow breathing
- Poor or loss of coordination
- Excessive fatigue
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical help as soon as possible.
4. Keep hydrated
Chances of dehydration actually increases in the cooler weather. The body’s response to thirst may potentially reduce 40%, even if you are already dehydrated. You will generally feel less thirsty, so recognising dehydration will be more difficult. It is still important to maintain hydration before you feel it when exercising in the cold. Keep a bottle of water next you while exercises and take small sips of even if you feel like you aren’t thirsty.
Some dehydration symptoms include:
- Increased thirst
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Dizziness or nauseous
- Lack of sweat with increased intensity
- Dark coloured urine
Note: Symptoms are more difficult to notice in winter
5. Cool down
It may be winter, but you will need to take some time to cool down. Allowing the body to slowly return to resting conditions is important. Not only does it allow the heart and blood vessels to slowly ease out of exercise, there has been some suggestions that this will also help with managing muscle soreness. Although there is no definitive evidence to support this, a good cooldown poses little to no risk. A sudden stop in exercise will also generally feel more uncomfortable. Once you have cooled down, make sure you put your layers back on to keep warm!
Stay active This Winter With Institute of Sports and Spines
If you are having any issues with maintaining exercise during the colder months, feel free to get in touch with our Institute of Sports and Spines’s team today. Our team of Exercise Physiologist will be able to discuss more in depth on how to manage your exercise. Book online or call us on 07 3398 7022.