While many head indoors for the holiday hustle, joining gyms or buying treadmills of their own, there is still a great opportunity to challenge yourself with some outdoor cardio.Yes, weather conditions may rule out certain days and yes, some added precautions must be taken; however, running at your local park or neighborhood trail can help you build strength in ways never before imagined. The beginning of the wintry mix does not have to mean a decline in your level of fitness. If you’re looking to improve your cardiovascular system and burn off a few holiday calories, this may be just the ticket. Here are some steps to see if it’s appropriate:
- An Honest Assessment. Before heading out, its important to have an accurate idea of just what type of physical activity your body can endure. Always speak with a physician before undertaking serious physical exercise or activity of any kind. Discuss the opportunities available for improving your strength and endurance during the winter months, and remember there’s often more than one way to garner the same result. Above all stay positive, but remain realistic.
- Dress for Success. If your physician approves, recognize that a change of wardrobe will be essential for taking on the colder conditions. Wearing multiple layers will come down to preference and comfort, but a hat and gloves should become standard. Many professional athletes utilize moisture wicking under layers to keep from overheating, but staying covered and warm should be a priority before going out in the elements. Likewise, don’t forget about purchasing proper footwear that suits your particular foot type. Your standard running or walking show might not be the best choice for trekking through snow or debris, so think about purchasing trail shoes or special winter footwear depending on your frequency of training.
- Proper Hydration is Key. Just because the summer heat is long gone doesn’t mean you need to dial down your water intake. Attempts at preserving internal temperature will undoubtedly result in perspiration and dehydration, so staying properly hydrated will still be important for optimum performance and minimized discomfort afterwards. Take breaks, shift to a focus on intervals or shorter runs instead of long endurance challenges, and remember to replenish fluids lost after your exercise.
- If The Weather Outside Looks Frightful… Listening to mother nature may be the most important decision you make. Don’t head out in the middle of a snowstorm or soon after one comes to an end. Be mindful of the earlier end to the day and don’t run after dark. Always inform someone of where you are going and how long you plan on being out. Steer clear of road running if at all possible, and watch out for black ice on pathways. Stay attuned to your surroundings and do not run outdoors with a music device. When conditions seem questionable, the treadmill or even swimming in an indoor pool are both great ways to get your cardio work in.
Above all, staying safe during an often chaotic holiday season is the goal. Exercise, train, and compete with others as much as you can. You’ll motivate each other, stay safe, and reap better enjoyment from it.