Healthspan November 01, 2017

We all know how beneficial exercise is for mental and physical health, but come autumn the thought of a gentle walk or hike outside is not quite as pleasant as it was when the days were longer and the weather a little bit warmer.

If you’ve already completed your first winter workout, congratulations – it can be very difficult motivating yourself to get outside in this cold blustery weather!

You might’ve come across plenty of tips for what to do when you’re working out in the cold – but what about what not to do? We’ve got some top tips for what not to do when you’re exercising outside this winter.

1. Don’t put your electronics in danger

Whilst having your phone to hand when you’re exercising away from home is a good idea – particularly if you have no one with you – there’s nothing that’ll ruin your zen after a morning run like having to fork out to replace a sopping wet phone because you didn’t have a waterproof pocket.

Do get hold of clothing with waterproof pockets so that you don’t have to worry about this eventuality.

2. Don’t wear too many layers

Just because you’ve worn a woolly hat and gloves walking to work doesn’t mean you’ll need the same number of layers during your outdoor workout. In fact, if you wear too many layers during it you’ll end up sweating more than usual and the evaporation of your sweat will pull heat from your body and make you feel chilled.

Work out which combination of clothing suits you best as this will vary from person to person depending on their fitness and or size. You should also keep in mind that different types of exercise will affect your sweat factor. A combined routine of walking and running - for example - will make you more venerable to the cold because you’ll consistently work up a sweat and then cool down when you’re walking, meaning your sweat will cool down and potentially make you extra chilly.

Do dress as if it’s ten degrees warmer outside as a rule of thumb.

3. Don’t forget about hydration

Hydration is just as important during cold weather as it is in the heat. Dehydration in the cold can occur from sweating, breathing, wind, and increased urine production, but this is something you probably won’t think about as you would if you were working up a sweat in hot weather.

Do drink water before, during and after your workout, even if you're not really thirsty. Consider drinking an electrolyte solution to replenish the minerals lost through the skin during exercise.

4. Don’t forget your reflective gear

Leaving work at 5.30pm to find it’s already dark is often the perfect excuse for missing a work-out, but if you’ve got the gear you don’t have the excuse! If you’re cycling that means remembering to put lights on your bike and if you’re running that means a bright, reflective jacket and a torch that’ll make you highly visible to oncoming traffic.

Do invest in good reflective gear so the dark days don’t mean you have to compromise on your exercise routine.

5. Don’t forget that getting moving whatever the weather can lift your mood

Exercise is renowned for lifting your mood and in winter – when Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression specific to the Autumn and Winter months is on the up – it’s so important to keep moving.

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health revealed that that 30 minutes of running boosted sleep quality, mood, and concentration during the day. "Many runners find that the time alone allows them to think and problem solve,” explains Hamilton. "Taking a run-break from a stressful project can help you return feeling refreshed and insightful."

Do get outside even if it’s for a half an hour walk. When it comes to exercise anything is better than nothing!

Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.

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