Exercising in the polar vortex

There doesn't seem to be an end to the freezing temperatures. But that doesn't mean you have to do all your exercise indoors. I don't mind going to the gym for weight training, yoga and pilates, but I prefer doing my cardio exercise outside whenever possible.

I started a clothing log which lists the temperature, the activity and what I wore while exercising. For example, yesterday I went cross country skiing in Central Park. It was 20 degrees outside. I wore fleece leggings, a heavy polypro shirt, a heavy bike jersey and my winter bike jacket. My body and legs were comfortable. I wore a hat and mittens with polypro liners. The only thing cold were my thumbs. I could have used charcoal hand warmers. And I wore heavy wool hiking socks which were perfect. Now I know how to dress the next time I go cross country skiing and it is around 20 degrees. I also know to bring charcoal hand warmers in case my hands get cold. Everyone deals with the cold differently, so I recommend you make your own chart. I happen to get cold easily.

Here are some more tips to getting outside to exercise when the temps are below freezing:

  • Wear layers – Layers trap your body heat. You can also remove layers if you warm up.

  • Wear wool or synthetics – Whatever you do, do NOT wear cotton. Cotton gets wet and cold. Wool and synthetics like polypro wick away the moisture and keep you warm and dry.

  • Mom was right – wear a hat and keep your ears covered.

  • Bring a snack – if you will be out for more than 60 minutes, bring a carbohydrate rich snack. Our body burns more calories trying to keep warm. So a snack will keep you energized for your workout.

  • Bring fluids – even though you may not be sweating as much as you do in the summer, you need to stay hydrated. The best thing to do is to take the sweat test to see how much fluid you need in the winter time.

  • Bring your inhaler if you have cold-induced asthma.

  • Watch out for frost-bite – if your skin turns red, white, or gray, get inside. Those are frost-bite warning signs.

  • Exercise with a friend – for motivation!

  • Do something you enjoy – like hiking, skiing, snow shoeing, ice skating and ice climbing.

Stay warm and safe!!!!

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