When I stepped out the door this morning at 5:10 it was a nice and breezy 55. By the time I left for work at 7:30 it was a cool 45 and the temps just keep dropping – 37 by the time we start out workout tonight at 6:30. And if this wind keeps up we’ll be slathering on the Chapstick like it’s our job.
Mother Nature certainly wasn’t messing around when she ordered this cold front….And while I don’t necessarily consider what we are going to be experiencing “extreme cold” some of you native Arkansans and southerners may.
My standard rule of thumb is: Dress like it’s 20 degrees warmer that it is. If it’s 35 out, I ask myself, “What would I wear to be comfortable in 55 degree weather?” and go from there. Not scientific, but it’s a piece of advice I read when the outdoors first became my gym and it’s really stuck with me.
So, I got to thinking about today’s post and how important it is to have the right approach and gear to wear in the cold temps. I decided that, while I will not get any points for creativity, it would probably be best to share the guidelines from one of my favorite websites, Ultimate Bootcamp.
While there are no definitive standards for when it is considered “too cold for outdoor exercise” (just think about the marathoners in the North and South Poles at -40 or -50 degrees!), the following precautions will also help to make your workout even more enjoyable:
1. Dress in Layered Clothing. Several thin layers are warmer than one heavy layer. Layers are also easier to add or remove and thus, better regulate your core temperature. The goal is to keep the body warm and minimize shivering.
2. Cover your Head. Your head should be covered while exercising in the cold, because heat loss from the head and neck may be as much as 50 percent of the total heat being lost by your body.
3. Cover your Mouth. To warm the air before you breathe it, use a scarf or mask. Do this especially if breathing cold air causes angina (chest pain) or you are prone to upper respiratory problems.
4. Stay Dry. Wet, damp clothing, whether from perspiration or precipitation, significantly increases body-heat loss. Those same moisture-wicking clothing you used in the summer make a great base layer in the winter.
5. Keep your Feet Dry. Use a fabric that will wick perspiration away from the skin. Polypropylene, wool or other fabrics that wick moisture away from the skin and retain insulating properties keep the body warm when wet.
6. Stay Hydrated. Dehydration affects your body's ability to regulate body heat and increases the risk of frostbite. Fluids, especially water, are as important in cold weather as in the heat. Avoid consuming alcohol or beverages containing caffeine, because these items are dehydrating.
7. Avoid Alcohol. Alcohol dilates blood vessels and increases heat loss so the odds of experiencing a hypothermic event increase. Alcohol can also impair judgment to the extent that you may not make the best or brightest decisions in a cold weather emergency. It's best to leave the alcohol behind when you head out into the cold.
8. Know your Limits. Everyone has their own idea of the perfect exercising weather. You might love the summer heat that makes you sweat like you're in a sauna. Your friend might still be wearing shorts when it's 35 degrees outside. When in doubt, do what's best for your body. That way, you can be sure to focus on the exercises, not the weather.