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Braving exercise outdoors

By Jess Leeds, Healthy Monday

I think we can agree that when the cold weather hits, motivation to exercise outside dramatically decreases. Instead of chills, chapped lips and a wind-burned face, most of us prefer to hit the gym. For those brave souls who stay loyal to outdoor workouts, here are some tips and ideas to stay healthy while facing the cold.

Dress warmly. If you’ve gathered enough motivation and courage to go outside, it is crucial that you dress appropriately and insulate yourself. Throw on at least three layers: on the bottom a thin fabric that will allow sweat to evaporate; in the middle ,a thicker shirt and long pants; and on top a breathable, wind-resistant jacket. It is also important to keep your head, hands and feet warm with a hat, gloves and thick socks. The beauty of wearing multiple layers is that if you get too warm, you can just take off a layer to cool down.

Warm up. With the weather being so cold, it is extra important that you take time to warm your muscles to avoid strain and injury. It is perfectly okay (and probably more comfortable!) if you warm up your muscles by doing jumping jacks or jogging in place indoors,  and then start your workout outside.

It’s okay if you don’t break a sweat. Because of the low temperatures, you are less likely to sweat as much as you do when you go to the gym. In fact, it’s better for you if you don’t sweat when running in the cold so that you don’t catch a chill!

Undress slowly. Once you are done with your workout, give your body time to adjust to the indoor temperature. Consider doing your post-workout stretch indoors to cool your body down before taking the layers off.

Not a fan of running? That’s okay! The wonderful thing about Syracuse is that there are many outdoor exercise options. For example, you can ski or snowboard at Labrador or Toggenburg Mountains. You can also look into cross-country skiing at Greek Peak or Bear Swamp. Shoveling is great exercise as well!

Don’t forget that if you don’t have the energy to fight the bitter cold, there are plenty of gyms at SU and in the surrounding areas that you could work out at. Just remember, it’s important to take care of yourself and keep active for your health.

Healthy Monday is a national movement of people and organizations who commit every Monday to the behaviors and actions that will end chronic preventable disease. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for tips, program updates and contests!


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