Three popular exercises that seem quite difficult in winter are running, swimming, and bicycling. Whether you love one of these activities, or you’re a triathlete in training, plummeting temperatures can make it incredibly hard to strap on those shoes or slip into a swimsuit for your normal workout routine. How do you keep from losing pace during the colder months?
There are two easy options for swimming. The first, and safer, is to find an indoor or heated pool in which to swim. Visit your local YMCA or county swim facility to find indoor pools. Specialty gyms may also offer indoor lap pools and it is becoming more trendy for gyms to offer infinite-swim options. These tiny pools have self-generating currents that allow you to “swim in place”.
The second option should only be taken on with proper training and equipment: ice water swimming. Many cultures revel in the restorative properties of cold water and indulge in ritualistic dunks in the icy deep. Many athletes, however, have found the physical challenge worthy of serious attention. With the use of thermal wet suits, body grease, and lots of focused training, swimmers can find a body of water to swim in regardless of the temperature.
A quick solution for cyclists may be to simply switch to spinning classes for the winter. But, any hard-core cyclist will tell you that spinning is not the same thing. Spin classes are a great work out, but they just can’t compare to the balance, aerodynamic control, and reactions involved in road or trail cycling. Zipping through shady woods or breezy neighborhoods at twenty miles an hour in freezing temperatures is no fun, however. The best defense is thin layers of clothing. Start with long thermal pants designed for cyclists. Dual-layered socks and long sleeve jackets are made for riders needing extra protection. A final step may be to include a full-face ski mask and gloves as needed.
There is no shortage of cold-weather gear for outdoor runners. For folks who choose not to go with a treadmill or indoor track, a trip to the local sporting goods store will provide you with all of the clothing you need to stay warm. The important part is to remember that you still need a warm-up and stretching before, during, and at the end of your run. Keep up your fluid intake – cold water may not sound appealing in a 20 degree wind, but it is just as essential for your muscle health. Remember a good pair of gloves and ear muffs since your body will reduce the blood flow to those areas if it gets too cold internally.
The colder temperatures of winter provide a physical barrier to exercise outdoors. Luckily, these can be overcome with a little education and a bit of shopping. The mental block is up to you, but you should see now that you have no other excuses for not getting out there year-round!