Photo courtesy of Vincent Brassine
Ah, wintertime! Warm fires, fresh cookies, vats of hot cocoa, and whether that makes most yield to hibernation in the face of icy cold fronts. It isn't easy to maintain a solid fitness regimen in the winter, partially because of a carb-induced coma, and partially because of the havoc that cold weather can wreak on our bodies. To be very certain, cold temperatures are a two-sided coin in the world of fitness.
One one hand, cryotherapy has become a popular perk in many high-end gyms and spas, fighting off inflammation and injury by exposing the body to extremely low temperatures (-200 degrees Fahrenheit) for 3 minutes or less. This treatment is said to benefit the endocrine and immune systems, as well as the musculoskeletal aspects of our bodies.
However, the cold isn't always so beneficial. Exercising outside in colder temperatures has the potential to cause damage to muscle tissue. In these conditions, the body works harder to complete the same exercises that would be less challenging in mild weather. This causes increased joint and muscle soreness and slows down many people come winter time.
Thankfully, there are ways to counteract the effects of cold weather! These 4 tips can help you maintain peak performance in spite of your area’s recent freeze.
Extend your warm-up. According to CNN’s recent report, you should warm up for 10 minutes when the temperatures are between 35 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Add on an extra 5 minutes for every 10-degree drop below 35 degrees and try a mix of bodyweight exercises and stretches for a more dynamic and effective warm-up series.
Hydrate before, during and after a cold weather workout. Dehydration causes soreness at any temperature and it is especially easy to forget to hydrate in cold weather. You may not be as thirsty when exercising during the winter, but your body still needs hydration before, during and after a workout to function at peak performance.
Cool-down, no matter how cold it may be. You should cool down for about the amount of time that you warm up. This is easy to skip after a long workout, but stretching large and small muscle groups will set your body up for success the next day.
Mind your diet. It’s easy to go heavy on the carbs in the winter, but make sure that you are still giving your body a balance of vitamins, antioxidants, and protein. Following a workout, your muscles will be especially grateful for a protein boost, whether it comes in the form of a glass of milk, a hard-boiled egg, or a nutrient-packed smoothie. Protein following a workout helps muscles recover and grow.
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