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Warm Up to Cold Weather Workouts

Dec 05, 2011 11:13PM ● By Cate Reynolds
We are outdoorsy folks here in the Chesapeake Region. We love to sail the Bay, jog in our neighborhoods, and bike on our scenic paths. But what happens come winter? We can still easily do two out of three of those pursuits…if we take a little time for planning.

First and foremost, we have to dress the part. And that doesn’t mean bundling up like Ralphie’s little brother in A Christmas Story. Don’t wear heavy clothes. The secret is layers. Once you get moving and pumping, you will feel much warmer than when you first ventured outside. You can remove that jacket and do the runner’s chic wrap-around-the-waist twist. Research the best fabrics that whisk away moisture to deal with the cold/sweaty/cold/ sweaty body-temp psychosis of the winter athlete.

You do, however, want to get extreme when it comes to your extremities. Hands, feet, and head should be well protected because the core stays warmer while arms, legs and ears are flailing around in the cold. The Mayo Clinic (which has an opinion on all things healthy) suggests we buy our wintertime exercise shoes a little bigger than usual to accommodate thick/thermal socks or two pairs of regular socks. They also recommend the layered look for your hands by wearing a thinner pair of gloves underneath a thick pair of mittens.

Fashion and function-wise, earmuffs and headbands have come a long way lately. They are light, effective, and compact. Just make sure that they don’t do such a good job that you can’t hear cars honking, etc. while you are jogging/biking along. Also, we suggest draping a scarf across your nose and mouth to help filter the coldest air on the bitterest of days. And on those especially nippy days, you may want to put your clothes in the dryer for a few minutes before you venture outside. At least you will be toasty to start.

With safety in mind, there is one more wintertime fashion statement to make: reflective tape. If you work out before or after work, chances are you’re doing at least part of your routine in the dark, and there is nothing quite so dark as the country roads of Maryland. So tape up your clothing, helmet, bike, etc., put your shiny side forward, and let people know you are there.

Once you are well-attired for your routine, start it off with some serious stretching…a good, slow warm-up before winter workouts is essential. Summer heat helps warm you up all on its own; cold weather demands extra efforts.

Last, but not least, make sure you protect the skin that is exposed to the cold. Lip balm, moisturizer, and sun block are invaluable accessories for either gender.

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