Winter outdoor exercise tips from a pro.
Winter in Canada can be tough. The days are short and the sunlight is sparse. My best piece of advice for feeling good during this cold and dark period is to venture outside and get active. Getting your blood pumping will not only increase your metabolism throughout the day, but it’s also a great remedy for brain fog and will have a beneficial effect on your mood.
Braving the cold for an outdoor workout is far more enjoyable if you dress for the occasion. The materials, layering and gear you choose can either make or break your experience. Here are a few pointers:
- Choose synthetic or merino wool for layering and avoid cotton at all costs. Cotton will absorb moisture (i.e. sweat) and stay damp, making your clothes cold and clammy. Synthetic and merino clothing will wick moisture away from your skin, which will eventually evaporate, helping you stay dry and warm.
- For my torso I like layering a puffy vest over a merino or synthetic long sleeve. This keeps my core temperature up, while reducing the bulk.
- For my bottom half I opt for leggings with long compression socks, over or under. These give extra warmth to my calves and are also great for circulation and recovery.
- A thin pair of synthetic gloves will keep your hands warm and will also help prevent cracking from the cold, dry air.
- Prevent loosing heat through your head with a good hat. Or, if you’re hot headed, opt for a headband to keep your ears warm (sorry, couldn’t help the dad joke).
Aside from layering, there a few other factors that may help you get the most out of your workout. Firstly, if you’re finding it hard to motivate, schedule your activity with a friend. It’s more fun and also harder to avoid or procrastinate. Secondly, don’t forget to do a good warm-up. Mobilisation and dynamic stretching before a workout is proven to reduce injuries, especially if you’re exercising in cold weather. I’m a big fan of Freestyle Fit’s dynamic warm-ups (look for her free videos at the bottom of her page). Thirdly, choose an activity you enjoy. A few of my favourites are downhill skiing or snowboarding, ski touring, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and jogging. Finally, make sure you hydrate! Drinking water is a little less enticing when the temps are low, but I find that a sachet of Ener-C in my drink bottle makes it a whole lot more delicious.
By Anna Segal, an Australian Olympic freestyle slopestyle skier and two-time world champion who lives, works and plays in beautiful Pemberton, BC.