Keeping Fitness-Motivated In the Cold
By: J. Chevont’e Alexander
Thanksgiving is around the corner, and Christmas is just a jingle bell away. We all know that the holiday season means good eating, and most of the time a lot of eating of the wrong stuff. Turkey, ham, stuffing, cabbage, macaroni, corn pudding, and oh do not forget Grandma’s cakes and pies, and the list, and our plates, goes on. With all this good food, it is all too easy to let that fitness regime that you have been working hard on all summer go into oblivion during the holidays. This also means that the temperature will be dropping drastically, and perhaps there will even be ice and snow. The colder months give us less motivation to go outside and to keep physical. In a poll of 5,000 people, taken on WorkOutsForYou.com, it was found that 30 percent get no exercise at all during the winter months. But, staying fitness-inspired during colder months can help you to avoid that post Christmas uphill struggle to regain your fitness levels. When everyone is setting those “lose 20 pounds” New Year resolution goals, you will be two steps ahead. Just because it’s cold outside, does not mean you have to put your winter workout plan on ice. So, lace up those sneakers, bundle up, and hit the pavement.
One study published in Environmental Science and Technology Journal found that people, who exercised outdoors, reported increased energy, decreased feelings of depression, and were more likely to repeat their workouts.
“Working out in the cold temperatures has a healing and rejuvenating effect on the body, mind and spirit. Doesn’t the idea of the elements of the cooler temps boost your mood, knowing that you will be relieving stress, anxiety and frustration from the daily grind. Simply continue to allow yourselves to immerse in the positive energy of nature and the awe of the earth’s natural wonders during your workouts outside.”
~Marjorie W Johnson, AFAA Certified Group Fitness Instructor, Owner MJ-FIT – Certified Personal Trainer
SKIP THE TREADMILL
Believe it or not, cold weather is actually ideal for fitness. It is better physically for your body compared to warm humid weather. The colder the weather, the less heat stress on your body which makes it easier for you to breathe, and to work out. Working out in hot and humid weather is extremely taxing on the body. Just because it’s cold does not mean you have to go to the gym. However, because cooler air is dryer it is just as important to continue to stay properly hydrated. The treadmill can get boring, and admit it, we tend to move less and eat more in the colder months. Once we get bored with a workout, this gives us another excuse not to be physically active. Record performances are usually achieved in cool conditions. We tend to run faster as the weather cools, because less blood is needed to transport heat to our skin for cooling so more blood is available to send energy to the muscles in our legs.
Most refer to the winter season as “cuddling season”. We want to stay warm, and it makes it better to have a warm body to cuddle up with. To give you more encouragement to continue with your fitness, push your partner outside to work out with you. On those snow days and cold evenings, go for a walk and enjoy the cool air. The cold weather gives you a reason to spend time with loved ones and get fit at the same time. Having a friend there to talk to makes the time go by fast as well.
As daylight changes, so may your attitude towards what is the best time of day to work out. Since it gets darker earlier, this may motivate you to work out in the mornings to help jumpstart your day. It is best to find the time of day that is going to keep you motivated through the entire season.
PREPARING FOR COLD WEATHER
Layering for Cold Weather
When working out in cold weather, the hardest thing is being properly dressed. It is important to dress in layers. This means wearing two or more layers of clothing, which will give you the option of being able to remove a layer as your body temperature heats up. It is important to remember that the wicking (moisture absorbent) material should be the closest piece of clothing to your skin. Wearing cotton close to your skin will eventually make you cold, because cotton will hold your sweat and moisture. Dressing in layers will also help trap body heat. Next, do not overdress. You should plan to be a little chilly when you start your run. If you feel warm at the start then you are probably overdressed. Next, protect your extremities. When it gets really cold make sure you protect your toes, fingers and ears. Wearing something to cover your head will also help to trap body heat. Mittens and gloves are great items to have to help keep your fingers warm. Finally, dress like it is 20-25 degrees warmer than it really is outside. Your body temperature will really heat up once you start your run.
Visit the Runners World website [www.runnersworld.com] and click on What to Wear. Plug in the weather conditions and it will give you suggestions on what to wear on your run.
WINTER WORKOUT TIP: To help the workout be easier outside is to warm up inside the house first. Take five to 10 minutes and do some low level aerobic activity, so when you go outside you will already be warm.
FINDING THE MOTIVATION
For holiday eating, remember Thanksgiving and Christmas are just one day. So, if you are eating away from home, usually that is the case for me, do not bring leftovers home. Eat what you are going to eat there and that is it. If you overeat, you get back on your routine the next day. One bad day is not going to set you back; but a bad week is something else.
Winter months make running and working out more challenging due to daylight and the bitter cold.
“I work harder to preserve my sexy in the winter so that I look hotter in the summer. However, I think about the fact that while others are sleeping I am working on getting my summer body ready.” says Priscilla Wright, Black Girls RUN! Richmond East End run coordinator.
Long story short, do not skip your workout this season because it is cold outside. Follow the steps below to keep your fitness goals active.
- Have a Goal
- Have a Running Buddy
- Share your fitness journeys on social networks
- Head indoors if the weather is unbearable
- Properly dress for the cold weather
- Stay hydrated
- Do not overdo the holiday eating
- Keep moving
In the next few weeks, temperatures will definitely be dropping and it will be getting darker earlier as we prepare for Daylight Saving Time on November 4. You have worked mighty hard all year. Why throw it all away during the season of frivolity and food?