7 Tips for Working Out When it’s Cold

Older man running outdoors in the winter cold

As the weather turns cold, we always hear this question: “Can I still train outside?”

The answer: yes! Outdoor activities in Northern Alberta that might get your heart rate up could include walking, running, hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and downhill skiing.

You just have to be prepared.

With that in mind, here are our top tips for staying active outside in winter.

1. Check the Forecast

Before you head outside for any length of time, be sure to check a weather app. Sunny days can be much colder than they appear, and the wind can be cutting in Northern Alberta.

Get as much info as you can and then bring the clothing and footwear you’ll need to be comfortable. Forecasts aren’t always accurate, so you’ll never regret bringing some extra gear in case conditions change.

2. Dress in Layers

Ever start a hike feeling chilly but wish you’d worn lighter clothing when you’re sweating heavily after 10 minutes? It happens.

The best plan is to use layers. Start with something that wicks moisture away from the skin, then add a warmer layer. On top, wear something that breaks the wind or keeps precipitation out.

You can, of course, add more layers in between those ones, and you can take clothes off as needed to be comfortable.

3. Pay Attention to the Hands and Feet

It’s not uncommon for winter workouts to be ruined by cold hands and feet—especially if you’re holding fitness equipment that’s very cold or if your feet get wet. Pack extra gloves, dry socks, and even a pair of warm boots in your “backup kit.”

In very cold weather, a face mask can take the edge off the air and make breathing easier, too.

4. Protect Your Head

You can lose a lot of heat through your scalp, and ears can freeze quickly. Take a few headbands or hats with you so you can pick the perfect option for the conditions. A scarf or neck gaiter can also come in handy.

You can get a sunburn on a cold day, so be sure to wear sunscreen.

5. Ease Into It

When it’s cold, take extra time to warm up. Be sure your muscles and joints are ready before you rip into something. Take as much time as you need.

You’ll know your warm-up is having the right effect if you start breathing heavier and feel like removing a layer.

6. Check Yourself Regularly

It’s great to train outside, but sometimes it’s just too cold for safety.

Early signs of frostbite include throbbing, aching, and pins and needles. Skin can become cold, hard, and pale. Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature is too low, so watch out for signs such as slurred speech, significant shivering, weakness, fatigue, and uncoordinated movement.

If you notice any of these things, get inside quickly. If you have any concerns or don’t feel better, contact a healthcare provider immediately.

7. Have Fun

Winter workouts can be a lot of fun even if they require more preparation. Many people feel down during the months with less sunlight, and getting active in the great outdoors can really boost your mood.

Get outside and get moving!

If you’d like to talk to us about a fitness plan that involves indoor or outdoor workouts,  book an intro for a free consultation.