The cold weather is no excuse to skimp on your workouts, and James Conley has you covered with some ins and outs.
Cold weather exercise brings about many unique challenges. Though we in North Texas don’t have to worry about the worst of the seasonal gauntlet — at least not for long stretches — it’s still advisable to take certain precautions as the thermometer plummets. As winter wears on and the days stay chilly, we checked in again with James Conley for some seasonal workout tips. To learn more about the benefits of one-on-one training, or enlist Mr. Conley as a support in your own workout routine, visit him online at www.jamesconleyfitness.com.
What are some common sense things that some people may not realize about cold weather workouts?
James: For one thing, you can easily get sunburned in the winter time. As far as your diet, it’s extremely important to drink plenty of water. You often don’t realize how much you’re sweating, because of the cooler weather. Breathing in the dry wind will dehydrate you as well. As for clothing, stay away from cotton, because it absorbs moisture that will stick to your body.
Any type of dry-thread clothing that wicks sweat away from the body is ideal for the winter season. Also, wear tight clothing, since it improves the circulation of your legs. Tights and yoga clothes work well. A lot of people wear them for fashion, but they also have a practical benefit.
Throughout the winter, it’s important to keep the extremities warm, since less blood gets to them. Your core heats up a lot quicker, and your blood will get concentrated there instead of your extremities like the top of your head, your fingertips, or your toes. You lose a lot of heat through the top of your head, so make sure you keep it covered. You also want to keep your toes wrapped. You’ll notice when people run in the cold, they may wear shorts and a tank top, but still have a hat and gloves. The farther you get from your heart, the less warmth your body has.
Also, try and run into the wind at the beginning of your workout. The reason for this is so you can reduce the wind chill at the end of the workout, when you’re running out of body heat. Make sure you cool down as well. Cooling down is slowing down your heartbeat a little at a time, so make sure you do that. The last thing is to get out of those sweaty clothes. Hop into a hot shower, and you’ll feel a lot better.
As far as individual workouts, are there any that are better in the colder months?
James: As long as you warm-up properly, you can do practically anything. Since it does take longer to warm-up in the cold weather, you generally want to reserve your high intensity workouts for the warmer months. Work out at a lower intensity than you normally would to warm up, and as your body gets warm you can increase intensity. I generally don’t recommend high-intensity workouts outside in the cold weather, as it’s taxing on the body’s resources. Your body is trying to keep you warm more than anything else you’re trying to do workout-wise.
Are there any changes to an active person’s diet they should pursue in the winter months?
James: Not necessarily. The most important thing is to stay hydrated, because we just don’t think about it so much. Summertime when we’re sweating, we think, “Sure, I need to drink some water.” If you eat a healthy diet, it should stay that way year-round. The hardest time of the year to stay fit is between Thanksgiving to Super Bowl, because we have a tendency to eat more. As a result we have an extra layer of fat, so it’s almost more like the “hottest” time of the year.
Getting up early in the morning to go for a run is one of the most difficult things to do. How do you recommend people inspire themselves to stay fit when the temperature drops?
You just have to have mental fortitude, is what it boils down to. If you slacked off last weekend, you just have to pick yourself up and go for it. The best way to stay in shape is to not get out of shape.