Colder weather means some changes to how we exercise. There are physiological changes that occur in your body related to activity when the mercury drops. Joints become stiffer, your body tries to conserve heat by reducing blood flow to your skin and muscles, and your heart has to work a little harder in the cold. Don’t take this to mean that you shouldn’t be active outdoors in the cold, it just means there are a few changes in your routine that are warranted.
A good warmup is always important; because of the changes we already discussed, it’s even more important that you do it right this time of year. To start, get your heart rate up a bit, maybe with a brisk walk or light jog. Follow that up with a dynamic warmup rather than static stretches. Things like walking or jogging while pulling your knees up high to your chest, high kicks in front of you with straight knees to get your hamstrings loosened, or a walking lunge with an upper body twist can get you ready for more intense activity. Dynamic warmups can be accomplished in many ways. Cater your warmup to what you have planned in your workout and to your specific needs.
If you’re not sure how it should look, or if you have specific questions ask your doctor of physical therapy.
Be sure to stay hydrated. Drink water before, during and after your workout. The temperature may be down, but you’ll still sweat and you’ll still lose water vapor in your breath. The drier air in winter lets your sweat evaporate more quickly, so it’s easy to underestimate how much fluid you’ve lost.
A proper cool down is an essential component of exercise and recovery. Keep moving with a walk or another form of active recovery to let your heart rate come down. After exercise is the right place for static stretching. You can also head inside for some foam rolling or self massage.
The days being shorter and the temperatures being lower don’t mean you’re stuck inside. If you follow these tips, you can safely keep moving outside. If you’d like a customized warmup or cool down, or have questions about your exercise routine, your doctor of physical therapy can help you.
ProFysio Physical Therapy has been providing clinical excellence and unmatched customer service to provide an optimal rehabilitation experience since 2013. To schedule an appointment visit ProFysioNJ.com and click on the “request an appointment” button.