How do you keep fit in winter? During the winter months, we pay less attention to our physical well-being. And exercising in cold weather is not to everyone's liking. However, physical activity in winter should not be discouraged; on the contrary, exercising in cold weather helps boost the immune system. Check out our advice and learn how to protect yourself from the cold and continue practising your favourite sport, even when the reading on the thermometer is zero degrees (or less!)
Exercising in winter
You've decided to brave the cold and attend your sports session? But have you taken the necessary precautions to cope with this change in temperature...Look after those muscles! Cold increases the risk of muscle injury. The reason for this? Cold causes our blood vessels to narrow which decreases the supply of blood to our muscles and organs. Result: there's a greater risk of injury in winter. Unfavourable weather conditions are bound to discourage you from exercising in cold weather: snow, ice, wind etc.... are often associated with bad falls.
Preparing for the cold
If you want to exercise in winter, you need to learn to comply with certain rules to avoid becoming cold or dehydrated and to ensure your body is capable of providing the necessary energy. Follow our advice for risk-free exercising.
1. Kitting yourself out
Before stepping outside, you need to think about kitting yourself out properly. In fact, when it's cold, most of your energy is used up keeping your body warm. To perform well, it's best to wear several layers of clothing. But not too many! Because the more active you are, the hotter your body becomes and the more you sweat ... and it's this humidity that conducts heat away from our body so, overall, perspiration has a cooling effect. If your body becomes cold, blood circulation is impaired, exposing you to a higher risk of injury. Choose breathable, insulating materials which will keep you dry when exercising. Pay special attention to your extremities as these are the parts most exposed to the cold. Wear a hat and gloves. And if you really suffer in cold weather, try using feet or hand warmers.
2. Warm up
Who said that cold weather leads to injury! The desire to exercise whatever the weather is very admirable but you need to learn how to take care in winter. Warm-up is the prevailing watchword, if you want to ensure your training session gets off to a good start. Your body temperature needs to rise to warm up your muscles and to ensure better performance, particularly when it's cold. A proper warm-up will cause the blood vessels to dilate, promoting optimum circulation during exercise. Choose active stretching exercises to help you avoid muscle strain: sets of knee lifts, heel-to-buttock kicks, squats, sidesteps etc. Try some skipping as well to work your cardio system. Consider extending the duration of your stretching period: in cold weather, your muscles, ligaments and tendons take longer to relax.
3. Eat light meals
Eat more fat when it's cold: myth or reality? Marie Fauchille, nutritionist with Aptonia, talks on this subject. "When it's cold, it's essential for the sportsman to consume enough energy (calories) to cover his energy expenditure. But this doesn't mean that he should pile more fat on his plate but rather that he should increase his intake of carbohydrates (complex or slow release carbohydrates - cereals, pasta, rice, pulses, potatoes etc.) and restrict the intake of lipids (fats). Denis RICHE, a French micronutrition specialist makes the following observation on this subject: "The most appropriate foods when exercising in cold weather are those foods that help the muscles work, in other words, carbohydrate-based foods. If he's properly dressed, eats enough and keeps moving, the athlete doesn't need to have a protective layer of fat.”
Although you may feel less thirsty in winter than in fine weather, don't forget to hydrate properly. Remember that you sweat just as much in winter as you do in the heat of summer. Cold air is less humid than warm arm, which increases water loss from the respiratory tract. Haven't you ever experienced that horrible tickly sensation in your throat when exercising in winter? Remember to drink regularly when in the gym or exercising outdoors: take a mouthful of liquid approximately every ten minutes when exercising.
5. Move inside!
Too cold to exercise? Never mind. With Domyos, everything is possible? Why not take up the treadmill, elliptical trainer or rowing machine if you want to continue with your workouts? Working out at home, using cardio training equipment is a good way of improving your fitness whatever the weather! The benefits? You'll improve your cardiovascular system, develop muscle, lose weight and let off steam, and all from the comfortable surroundings of your home. You should also consider group exercise classes at the gym; there's something for all tastes: cycling, boxing, Zumba®, Legs, Bums & Tums, step, stretching…