So the weather outside may be getting more and more frightful as we speak, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good workout! Just follow these tips for properly warming up in the cold weather.
4 Tips for a Proper Warm Up
1) Focus on dynamic movement, not static stretching.
In order to safely exercise in the cold weather (or even indoors on a super cold day), your heart rate should be elevated prior to your actual workout. Why? Because this ensures that blood is adequately pumping around your body so tissues are both oxygenated and pliable. To achieve this, dynamic movements are your best option. Here are a few we love (in order of difficulty):
– Jumping Jacks
– Leg Swings and Arm Circles
– High Knees
– Butt Kickers
– Jumping Split Squats
Dynamic movement also helps lubricate and loosen up your joints, muscle fibers, and tendons without pushing them past a safe resting position. On the other hand, static stretching and foam rolling (where the goal is more to increase flexibility, relax muscles, and move intracellular fluids rather than prepare a body for movement) is best done after a workout.
In addition to performing a dynamic warm-up (aim for at least 5 minutes of movements that feel comfortable yet challenging enough to get your heart rate up), keep in mind a few of these other recommendations for staying safe and warm while working out when the temperature drops:
2) Drink a couple extra glasses of water.
Cold dry air can strap your body of moisture, especially if you end up sweating while exercising, shoveling, or doing any sort of physical activity outdoors. To keep yourself (and your connective tissue) well-hydrated, be sure you’re drinking that water! At least half your body weight in fluid ounces per day, and possibly more if you’re super active.
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3) Get those layers on.
Layering your clothes in cold weather isn’t just smart, it’s comfortable, especially when you’re working out and your core body temperature changes. Prepare for any outdoor exercise with a hat, gloves, long tights or pants, and a jacket to put over your shirt. Remove as needed in order to stay comfortable, but be smart about it, too: you probably shouldn’t run around in just a T-shirt and shorts in freezing weather, even if you’re super hot. Your muscles and joints need to be warm for safe movement, but exposure to extreme cold air can make them stiff and tense.
Appropriate breathing before and during exercise can improve performance, help you avoid cramps, and keep your muscles better oxygenated for the demands of the activity, especially in an environment where they may be struggling to stay warm, too. So, during your warm-up, spend about two minutes focusing on deep belly breathing. To do this, start with one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly. Then, take long deep breaths, making sure your abdominals push out before your chest fills up. Note that the exhalation should be as long, if not longer, than the inhalation.