The thing with winter—besides the fact that it comes back to visit every year—is that it sticks around for about three months! Since sequestering yourself within four walls and remaining sedentary for a quarter of the year is really out of the question, you absolutely need to find a way to have fun outdoors during the cold season.

Here, then, are four tips to keep you active outdoors all winter long!

 

1. Outsmart your brain

Deciding to go play outdoors in the middle of winter is a bit like jumping into a swimming pool: you can’t think about it too much. The first three minutes are the most unpleasant—but they’re part and parcel of the whirlwind of winter fun and shot of endorphins that your outdoor exercise session is sure to provide!

Whatever you do, don’t ask yourself the question: “Should I make my way out into the cold and dark for a bit of physical effort… or should I take a horizontal approach, stretched out on the sofa with a warm blanket to keep me company?” NO! You can either avoid thinking it over altogether, OR cleverly outsmart your brain by running through a list of the benefits of winter training:

  • Getting some fresh air
  • Increasing your energy level
  • Reducing stress
  • Expending more calories (since the body has to work harder to maintain an adequate temperature)
  • Doing what’s necessary to earn the right to enjoy a hot post-workout shower

With this technique, you can put your brain to sleep… waking it up to take advantage of the joys of winter. It won’t even suspect a thing…

 

2. Make like an onion

Running outdoors as the snowflakes fall can be a lot of fun—as long as you’re dressed for it! Not dressing right for your workout is like skating on thin ice… If you overdress, your perspiration will transform you into a walking icicle. Not enough clothing and you’re looking at a bout of hypothermia!

So how, then, are you supposed to dress? One word: LAYERS. Much like an onion has several layers, you too should wear several layers of clothing, each serving a specific function. The first layer’s mission is to keep you dry by wicking away sweat from your body. Choose something slim-fitting with absorbent properties. Next, you’ll need a jacket to keep you warm—also preferably with absorbent properties. You can choose it based on the temperature outdoors. Then, to finish wrapping up the onion, cover everything with a protective layer. This final layer’s role is to protect you from the elements—choose something that’s wind resistant and ideally waterproof, especially if it’s snowing!

To determine the number of layers required and their thickness, dress as if it was 10 degrees warmer than the actual outdoor temperature. You’ll feel a little cold when you first go out, but you’ll be perfectly comfortable once you start moving.

To finish up, make sure to cover your extremities (feet, hands, ears, nose), as your blood flow won’t get around to them as much as usual, given how busy it will be keeping your vital organs warm!

 

3. Hydrate
Even if you don’t get as thirsty as you would during a heat wave, it’s important to hydrate before, during, and after your snowy workout. Yup, even though you hardly break a sweat! You also lose water through breathing, especially when the air is cold and dry, like in winter. And since you don’t feel as thirsty, you can’t rely on your body’s signals. So maintain a cautious approach and remember to drink!

 

4. Be seen

In addition to making like an onion, you also need to make like a Christmas tree. A Christmas onion, in other words… Why? Because a bright and visible Christmas onion running in the dark is clearly playing it safer than a black-clad onion wandering the unlit streets. Reflector bands on your clothing to keep you visible, along with a headlamp to light the way ahead, are sure to do the trick.

 

By following these recommendations, you’ll increase your chances of enjoying the winter season—with fresh air, exercise, fun, and safety working hand in hand! You should nevertheless keep a close eye on weather forecasts, and be wary of ice and extreme cold. When the conditions are truly polar, choose to train indoors instead, waiting for warmer and sunnier days to go play outdoors. Have a great winter! J