Baby, it’s cold outside … and your point is?
When it’s as cold as it has been this week, moving your workout indoors is a good idea. But being the rebel I am — I have to disagree.
Growing up in Montana plus spending a few winters in Yellowstone, I have experienced my fair share of cold, including a couple days around 50 below. When it’s not quite so cold, I like the sound of snow crunching under my feet, skating on frozen lakes and rivers, the snow so hard you can walk on top of it and, the best, my nostrils freezing and eyelashes frosted.
Exercise in the cold is the best heart-pumping-calorie-burning-vitamin D-boosting-mood-lifting exercise you can get in the winter.
Cold temperatures cause your blood vessels to narrow, slowing the blood flow and reducing the amount of oxygen to the heart. Your heart must now work harder to circulate the blood and stay warm by increasing the heart rate and blood pressure. And here is the kicker: Firing up the heart takes a lot of energy, so it must begin tapping into your fat stores, meaning you will burn more calories.
For those with heart conditions, the increased heart rate will raise the blood pressure and can be harmful, so it is important to avoid over exertion by taking frequent breaks when doing any outdoor physical activity.
You must be very conscious of how your body continues to respond to the cold. If your body temperature falls below 95 F, your body will begin to shiver by rapidly contracting and relaxing the muscles to warm it. Other signs and symptoms of hypothermia include:
Slurred speech or mumbling.
Slow, shallow breathing.
Clumsiness or lack of coordination.
Drowsiness or very low energy.
Confusion or memory loss.
Loss of consciousness.
Even though daylight hours are minimal in winter, spending time in the sun will give you a boost of Vitamin D to absorb calcium and build strong bones. Vitamin D also increases your endorphin production making you a happier outdoor exerciser.
Before heading out for your feel-good calorie burn, be sure to prepare for the cold temperatures. Dress in breathable, moisture-wicking layers to add and remove them as needed.
Wear shoes that will keep you on your feet. When you eventually fall, try to fall safely. Do your best to avoid hitting your head and landing on your tailbone. Core-strengthening will improve your falling technique and can be done so with Pilates and yoga.
Drink plenty of water because in cold air, our sweat evaporates more quickly than in warmer air and can cause dehydration. When you see your breath, it is the water vapor leaving your body. Higher respiration rates during exercise will increase the water loss rate and risk for dehydration.
Knowing the air temperature is not enough. As wind speed increases, the dropping windchill will cool your body faster, increasing the chances of hypothermia.
If you will be in the refreshing cold long, don’t forget your sunscreen and remember your nostrils to avoid the sun’s reflection off the snow. Trust me, it hurts.
Now don’t let these precautions keep you inside. Prepare yourself and go out for your walk, sledding, skating, skiing, a run, a bike ride and the most important — making snow angels and snowball fights. Then you can go ahead and join Dean in singing “Baby, it’s Cold Outside.”
Sherrie Hebert is a certified personal trainer and Pilates mat and equipment instructor at Gold’s Gym and her business, Performance Pilates. You may contact her at 208-317-5685 or firstname.lastname@example.org and visit her Facebook page, Performance Pilates.