How to Avoid the Health Risks of Cold Weather Workouts
There’s no reason you can’t take that outdoor jog or hike when the temperature drops. But it is important to be aware of potential winter dangers, such as exercise-induced asthma and hypothermia. A few precautions can see you safely through the colder months.
Fend off “Exercise Asthma”
Even if you’ve never experienced breathing problems before, winter workouts can bring about a frightening phenomenon known as as bronchoconstriction (EIB). In cold, dry weather, our airwaves constrict. When combined with a cardio workout, that constriction turns rapid, deeper breathing into a prolonged bout of coughing — as well as chest tightness and wheezing.
To prevent EIB, bring plenty of water with you as you jog or hike in cold weather, which thins out accumulating mucus in your lungs. And bring a scarf or mask to breathe into, which warms the incoming air, discouraging the dangerous narrowing of your airwaves.
Heavy clothing obviously keeps you warm in cold weather. But when you’re working up a sweat, thick fabrics can trap the moisture, which in turn encourages heat loss. In other words, between perspiration, wind and low temperatures, you can put yourself at risk for a potentially dangerous case of hypothermia.
That’s why investing in winter jogging or hiking apparel made to wick moisture away from the skin is worth the money. Even when you can’t afford specialized sportswear, dressing in several layers of thinner fabric is always helpful, as is making sure your workout togs include good-quality coverage for your head, hands, neck and feet.
If you’re out for a longer hike, pack a change of socks and other inner layers. When you’re camping or even lost, changing out of sweaty or rained-on clothes can keep you safe.
Prevent Muscle Injuries
Cold muscles are more prone to sprains and soreness. Bodily tissues tense up to combat heat loss, which makes them more likely to develop tiny tears as they’re worked.
Slowly warm up those muscles and tendons by doing a slow walk before you begin running or hiking. Gradually pick up the pace as you go. This precaution helps raise your core temperature, and, in turn, your outer limbs.
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