7 Tips for Keeping Up Your Walking Regimen in Cold Weather

Walking may not get your heart rate up or your muscles fatigued quite as much as an intense session at the gym, but it’s still one of the best forms of physical activity — no matter how fit or unfit you may be. According to a recent study conducted by researchers at Binghamton University, a simple walking regimen done at a moderate level of intensity can help improve cardiovascular health in the short term.

When it comes to walking outside, the weather tends to be more welcoming in the spring, summer and fall. In the winter, it can be easy to use the time of year and corresponding weather conditions as an excuse to skip your regular walk. This may be especially true if you live somewhere that gets very cold and typically sees a lot of snow in the winter.

Unless there’s a serious snowstorm, a serious ice storm or some seriously brutal wind gusts, you can still get out to walk by making a few adjustments to your regimen according to the weather and outdoor conditions. Here are a few helpful recommendations.

1. Check the windchill before you head out.

While it might seem obvious to check the temperature before you head out in any cold weather, it’s important to remind yourself to consider the windchill in the winter as well. Strong winds can easily make the outdoors feel a lot more frigid.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the risk of frostbite increases when the temperature falls below 5 degrees Fahrenheit or -15 degrees Celsius even when it’s not windy. With a windchill of -16.6 degrees Fahrenheit, frostbite can occur in as little as 30 minutes. If there’s a big windchill, shorten your walk and make sure you expose as little skin to the elements as possible.

2. Dress for the weather.

Speaking of frostbite, dressing for winter weather is a must — and clothing should vary depending on whether it’s snowing, blowing, sunny or cloudy. Walking at a moderate intensity can generate enough heat to make you sweat, so it’s important to dress in layers so you at least have the option to remove clothing if you’re heating up.

The first layer of clothing closest to your skin should be made of synthetic material so that it draws sweat away. From there, you can add layers of fleece for insulation. Make sure you also put a lot of care into covering your head, ears, hands and feet too, which can easily get cold when dressed improperly.

3. Invest in the right footwear.

Your regular walking shoes probably aren’t going to cut it in winter weather. To deal with the snow, slush, ice and colder temperatures, you’ll need boots that offer protection and that give you great support, too.

Check out your local outdoor apparel or sports store and ask a salesperson about proper boots for walking. There are all sorts of brands out there that are waterproof, come with insulation for temperatures well below freezing and have anti-slip features for icy conditions. You may need to consider adding your own insoles to them as well for better foot support.

4. Stretch to warm your muscles up.

Don’t bring your cold muscles out into the cold and expect them to move flexibly. Instead, take a few minutes to do some simple stretching inside before you venture out.

Working on gently stretching your quads, hamstrings and even your hips before a walk is always a good idea. You can also help prevent shin splints by doing some extra stretching for your calves, shins and feet.

5. Make sure you’re well hydrated.

It’s a lot easier to remember to drink a lot of water in the summer when the heat is scorching, but hydrating in the dry, winter weather is just as crucial. Seeing your breath exit your mouth is one of the most obvious wintery signs that moisture is quickly evaporating from your body in the dry weather, so be sure to drink water before you head out.

6. Tailor your route to better match the current conditions.

There may be times when that trail you love will be too snowy to walk on. Or there may be times when the sidewalks are too icy, but the snow on that trail has been padded down and should be fine to walk on. Always try to scope out the current conditions before you go and make adjustments to your route when necessary to keep yourself safe.

7. Wear reflective clothing when it’s dark.

Let’s face it — there’s not much daylight to be enjoyed in the winter months. If that means you’re getting out to walk in the morning or the evening when the sun hasn’t come up or has already gone down, be sure to make yourself noticeable by wearing reflective clothing so that nearby traffic can spot you.

Remember that skipping your daily walk here and there is no big deal if Mother Nature just isn’t cooperating, even if you try to follow all the tips mentioned above. It’s always better to be safe indoors than sorry outdoors!

Related Articles
5 Creative Ways to Fit a Workout Into the Busy Holiday Season
7 Cold Weather Items You’re Forgetting to Clean
4 Big Reasons to Avoid Yo-Yo Dieting Over the Holidays

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

101 comments

Katie S
Katie S26 days ago

Good idea, thanks!

SEND
Jaime J
Jaime J1 months ago

Thank you

SEND
Jerome S
Jerome S3 months ago

thanks

SEND
Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 months ago

thanks for sharing.

SEND
Leong S
Leong S4 months ago

noted.thanks

SEND
Richard A
Richard A4 months ago

Thank you for this article.

SEND
Jonathan H
Jonathan H4 months ago

TY

SEND
Simon L
Simon L4 months ago

ty

SEND
Jan S
Jan S5 months ago

Good advice. Thanks.

SEND
Dennis H
Dennis Hall5 months ago

Thanks!

SEND