Staying fit can be a challenge in the winter. Icy temperatures and holiday gatherings equal a lot of time spent relaxing indoors. Heading outside for a cold weather run can be a good way to beat cabin fever and boost your fitness level.
“There’s just something about breathing the cold air and enjoying a change of scenery that is very refreshing,” says David Smith, MD, an avid runner and primary care specialist with the Sports Medicine and Performance Center at The University of Kansas Health System.
Runners should follow some important guidelines in cold weather, Smith notes, particularly related to running attire:
- Dress as if it were 20 degrees warmer than the true outdoor temperature. Layer your clothing, but do not overdo it. Make sure the layer against your skin is a fabric that wicks sweat away, rather than an absorbent material like cotton.
- Wear warm socks that don’t constrict your feet.
- Wear a hat and gloves, and, in extreme cold temperatures, wear a face mask to protect the nose and mouth.
- Wear good running shoes. Cold weather can stiffen the rubber soles of workout shoes. Be sure to wear high-quality shoes that cushion your feet. Some runners wear traction straps for safer running on snow and ice.
- Wear reflective clothing.
- Warm up and cool down. Do plenty of simple stretches and move around to prepare your body for temperature changes.