November 13, 2013 | by Gerard Burley
Braving the cold
AIDS Walk 2013, Whitman-Walker Health, gay news, Washington Blade

There are added health benefits to working out in cold weather but make sure you’re dressed properly before you go out. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

First, congrats to all who have been out there training and competing in all the fall running events. I ran the Washington AIDS Walk/5k Run and many others completed the Marine Corp Marathon.

No matter if you just completed a race or are just continuing your outdoor training, you are quickly realizing that the weather is quickly changing. Here in Washington, we’ve had a few unusually blustery cold days already.

Slowly those short shorts and headbands are being replaced with tights and wool caps. The cold also drives more and more people away from working out outside. I’m here with some tips to help you continue going strong no matter what cold shade old Jack Frost decides to serve.

Burning the winter belly — Let me first say this, just because you’re putting on more clothes, does not mean that you have right to let yourself go. Remember those sweaters can only hide so much, so stay on the plan.

Training in the fall or winter cold air is the best season to train. You actually tend to burn more calories in the cold than you would in warmer temperatures. Your body will use more calories just to keep itself warm before you even break a sweat from your actual workout. This helps you shed more of that wintertime belly fat that we all hate. After an effective warm up, which I’ll talk about next, try winter jump roping or running intervals at a two-to-one ratio. For example, jump rope or run as fast as you can for one minute, then rest for 30 seconds. See if you can complete this high intensity interval 10 times and you’ll definitely blast away those calories and earn that hearty fall meal.

A little be-foreplay — By now we should all know how important it is to warm up before the main event, right? In colder temperatures an appropriate warm up is extra important. A key to know you have warmed up correctly is that you are in a full sweat before you start your main workout. My two tips for warming up during the cold months are either warming up in the house before stepping into the cold or adding in an extra few minutes to your normal warm-up routine. By warming up in the higher temperatures of the house or twice as long outside, you will ensure to raise your body temperature, helping to prevent any injuries during the main bouts.

Dress to impress — No, Tim Gunn, it’s not time for the exercise winter runway, but this is a time when what you wear does matter a lot.

If you’re going to train outside, as you should, it’s important to wear clothing that will keep you both warm and dry. All the major clothing brands make cold weather gear that will help insulate you to keep warm, wick away your sweat to keep your skin dry and are comfortable so you can move freely. I’ve learned the hard way don’t go cheap on this. Personal experience with cheaper gear has had me either burning up, cold once I sweat or moving like the tin man.

The right gear should have you feeling moderately cold when you first walk out the door, but not extremely uncomfortable. That way once you get into the meat of your workout, you’ll stay warm. This is not the time to wear layers or your dad’s cotton sweat suits and go for a jog. Once you sweat, that cotton will actually get wet, freeze and leave your body at risk for hypothermia and other cold temperature ailments. Be smart and get cold weather gear.

No matter your exercise preference, cold weather training can be fun, effective and even help you burn a few extra calories. Just remember to do it safely and you’ll keep your summer figure all year long.

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