Part 2: Exercising Outdoors in the Winter Months
Continued from Part 1
Now you need something for the head and hands. I usually wear a synthetic stocking cap. The word synthetic pops up a lot because it is the fabric most commonly used in designing “performance clothing” that is clothing specifically desinged to be used in a number of outdoor activities from climbing to cycling, running etc.
I think I own more performance wear than I do any thing else. A good fleece hat and they come in many weights can really help you regulate body heat. A good hat will be soaking wet at the tip top on the outside, leaving your head bone dry, that is the beauty of performance wear. The head, as you probably know, is like a chimney. Massive amounts of heat can easily be lost if it is left uncovered, so get a good fleece hat. Now you need gloves or mittens. My preference is mittens. Fingers together in a dark warm place are much warmer than gloves with fingers separated by fabric with cold spaces in between.
Footwear depends on what you plan to do outside. Don’t wear snow boots and go for a run. You will be sore and sorry you ever left the house! Blisters will do you in even before you get started. If you are going running, wear running shoes and wool socks. If you are going to hike, wear a boot that will give you full range of motion, that is not too heavy and won’t sweat your feet out causing more blisters. With skiing, you simply have to wear ski boots.
Now move your body! The trick here is slow and steady, slow and steady. When the temps are in the single digits or below zero you want to move just enough to get a work out in and just enough to heat the pockets of air between your skin and the clothing you have on. You will be amazed at how much heat you can produce running down a trail covered with snow in 20 below zero wind chills. Here in Northern Minnesota I will get in 20 to 25 miles of running a week on snowmobile trails through the woods in the dead of winter. I also cross-country ski most winters and find it a blast even when it is zero degrees out. I also bike all winter over snow packed country roads if conditions are not too bad. The same principals apply in all cases, dress in layers.
So if you’ve never tried exercising outdoors in the winter, treat yourself to a whole new world of fun. If you follow these tips you just might enjoy winter again, just like when you were a little kid.
Dudley Edmondson is the author of Black and Brown Faces in America’s Wild Places, and is available for speaking engagements.