Monday, February 04, 2013

It's cold. Get outside!

Just because the temperature is below freezing doesn't mean you have to stay indoors, surf the net and watch TV all day.  Surfing the net is not exercise.  You got to get outdoors and move your body.  No excuses.  Let me help you become a winter weather lover.

  1. Dress appropriately:  That means wear layers.  Start with a base layer that is NOT cotton.  Why? Because cotton absorbs your sweat and retains the moisture.  That means the shirt stays wet and you remain cold.  Instead, where synthetic materials that wick the moisture away from your body.  Depending upon the activity and temperature, adjust the next 2 layers.  If you are doing a sport which raises your heart rate significantly (running, cross country skiing, hiking), you will want a lighter weight layer. If you are doing a sport that has a great amount of wind chill such as downhill skiing or bicycle, the second layer will be thicker. The final layer should be a breathable shell. As mom always said, "Don't forget your hat and gloves."  When it is very cold, I like to wear a balaclava (not baklava).  Not only does it cover the top of my head but also the sides and chin. I can even pull it over my mouth when necessary.  My hands have a tendency to get very cold, so I will wear mittens or lobster mitts with polypropylene liners.  Lobster mitts are great for cycling because they keep two fingers together which allows you to break and shift easily.  Even though it is winter, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the UV rays and debris. And don't forget proper footwear including wool socks.  If you are hiking, good water-resistant boots are necessary. If you are cycling, neoprene booties to cover your bike shoes are very helpful.  If it is very cold, you can insert charcoal hand or foot warmers into your shoes or gloves.  I often use those while skiing and cycling.

  2. Pick an activity you enjoy:  It is not fun to be in the cold when you are not enjoying yourself. It actually feels colder because you end up focusing on the negative aspects of the activity. Instead find an activity that you enjoy and you will forget how cold it is. You will be focusing on the positive aspects of the sport and enjoying the thrill that it creates.  When it is frigid outside, I enjoy cross-country sking, hiking and ice climbing. Yes, it may be single digits outside but the heat that my generates and the enjoyment of being outside outways the cold.

  3. Get outdoors with a friend:  Meeting up with a friend will motivate you to get outdoors and stay outdoors.  Having a conversation while exercising or just someone to share the experience with can make the difference in having an enjoyable day versus a drag.

  4. Join a group: There are so many Meetup groups that you are bound to find one that fits your preferences.  There are hiking, running, skiing meetup groups. This is also a great way to make new friends with common interests.

  5. Eat, drink and be merry: This is my favorite subject.  Just because it is cold doesn't mean you don't have to drink (and I mean water, not beer).  If you are exercising outdoors, carry a bottle of water.  The best way to determine how much you need to drink is to do the sweat test.  This should be done at different times during the year because your sweat rate will vary depending upon the outdoor conditions.  This is how you do the sweat test. First, go to the bathroom, then weight yourself naked. Do your exercise for one hour.  If you drink fluids along the way, keep track of the quantity.  When you’re done, strip again, dry, and weigh yourself factoring in the water your consumed. The difference is the weight, in water, you lost. Water weighs just over one dry ounce for every liquid ounce (1.04 to be exact). To make it easy just use a 1 to 1 ratio. So for every pound you lose, you need to drink 16 ounces of fluids. Now for eating. The rules are similar as they are for summer sports. If you are exercising for one hour, you don't need any carbohydrates during you activity. If you are exercising for more than one hour, particularly more than ninety minutes, you will want some fuel.  This can be in the form of fluids or food.  The calories will help endurance and body temperature. 

Now what are you waiting for? Get outside!!!

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