Weight Loss & Diet

Winter Workouts: Being Safe While Staying Active in Winter Weather

It is just as important to be physically active in winter as in summer with proper precautions! Here are some tips for staying safe during winter workouts, and when it may be time to head inside.
Winter activity
Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Lark Health

In this article:

  • Staying active in the winter is good for weight and health.
  • It can be safe to exercise outside most days, in most locations, with proper precautions.
  • Dressing in layers, wearing reflective clothing, and warming up properly can help you stay safe.
  • Sometimes, you may need or want to take your workout indoors. You have many choices! And there are ways to make it easier to complete a workout inside with fewer distractions.
  • Lark can help you stay on track during the winter and the rest of the year. Lark has physical activity tracking and other features to help you hit your goals.

It is just as important to be physically active in winter as in summer. And there are ways! It may be cold out, but a review article in Sports Health says it can usually be safe if you are careful. Walking, skiing, or doing something else, these are some tips for staying safe during winter workouts, and when it may be time to head inside.

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How to Dress for Winter Weather

How to Dress for Winter Weather

Layering up is the best strategy. Use these as needed.

  • An inner layer. This is usually synthetic fabric that wicks moisture from sweat away from your skin.
  • One or more mid layers that are warm. Fleece or wool work well.
  • An outer layer that is waterproof if it is rainy, or a windbreaker if it is windy. 

Mayo Clinic says to remove layers when you get warm. Put them on again if you get cold.

Also think about these.

  • Hands: gloves or mittens. Choose waterproof ones if it is rainy.
  • Head: warm (ski) hat in snowy or cold weather, or a breathable hat with a brim to shield your eyes in rainy weather.
  • Ears: ear muffs can keep your ears cozy.
  • Feet: special traction devices for your shoes to prevent slipping.
  • Eyes: sunglasses if sunlight is reflecting off of snow.
  • Skin: sunscreen can protect your skin from intense radiation if snow is reflecting sunlight. 

Injury Prevention in Winter

Warming up

It is a good idea to get clearance from your healthcare provider before trying a new exercise or program. Also, ACE (American Council on Exercise) Fitness says a warm-up takes longer in winter. You can walk slowly or do some deep knee bends or other movements at a low intensity to start warming up your muscles.

Harvard Health Publishing suggests these movements to lower injury risk.

  • Arm swings and arm circles.
  • High steps, lifting your knees one at a time to your chest. Holding for a few seconds before lowering it. Alternate about 10 times.
  • Lunges, alternating legs, about 10 times on each side.

A full warm-up may take 5 to 10 minutes.

Road Safety Tips

Get Back on Track

Safety is always critical when exercising outside. Extra precautions may be needed in winter..

  • A reflective jacket or vest increases visibility.
  • When bicycling, always wear a helmet. Use headlights and taillights so drivers can see you.
  • Use roads or sidewalks that are clear and not slippery.
  • Face traffic if you are walking or running.

Mayo Clinic has these and more tips.

Planning for Safety

Weather forecast

A review in Sports Health says to check the weather forecast before you head outside. Be sure to factor in wind chill and precipitation when checking the temperature. These tips can help you stay safe.

  • If it is windy, start against the wind so it is at your back on the way home. Otherwise, you risk getting tired coming back while fighting the wind.
  • Consider doing smaller loops so you can stop if you get cold or tired. For example, instead of doing a 60-minute route, do 3 20-minute loops.
  • Know signs of frostbite and immediately address it if it starts to happen.
  • Tell someone where you’re going and when you will be back.

When to Take It Indoors

Resistance Bands

You should stay indoors if you cannot dress properly to stay warm while outside. These are some other times to avoid exercising outdoors.

  • When there is freezing rain or roads or sidewalks are icy.
  • During thunderstorms.
  • When road conditions are unsafe, such as when it is dark and there are no street lights, or if snow banks are so high that they do not leave room for traffic to pass by if you are in the street.

It is better to be safe than sorry. Stay indoors if you are unsure if it is safe to go outside. 

Here are some tips to make indoor exercising easier.

  • Set aside time to exercise. You may need to let other household members know of your intention.
  • Clear distractions from your workout area.
  • Have entertainment ready if you need it. Ideas are listening to music, watching a movie or tv on a big screen or tablet, or reading a book. If physical books are inconvenient, try downloading ebooks from your local public library and reading them on screen!

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If you have children who are too young to let you exercise alone, include them in age-appropriate ways. These are some ideas to involve them.

  • Choose the next exercise for you to do for a pre-set amount of time. 
  • Ask them to watch your form and make suggestions for improving it. 
  • Challenge them to copy your movements.
  • Let them choose songs for your playlist.

Physical activity in winter and spring can have a major impact on health and weight management. There are many ways to overcome challenges such as bad weather and lack of time. Lark can help you stay active!

Lark makes physical activity simple. With Lark, weight loss and healthy living happen when you make small changes that fit into your lifestyle. Lark offers tips, tracking, instant feedback, and friendly suggestions. Over time, small healthy changes can become habits for long-term success. Your personal Lark coach is available 24/7 through your smartphone so you can get expert tips, track meals, physical activity, and weight loss. 

The entire program may be available at no cost to you if your health insurer covers it. Click here to find out if you may be eligible for Lark! You could be minutes away from taking the first steps to hitting your weight loss goals and improving health.

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