When colder weather sets in, some people abandon their outdoor fitness routines for the comfort of indoor gyms and home exercise equipment. However, walking in the winter and even jogging, when practical, are not limited to the warmer months of the year. Outdoor conditions can be a bit treacherous, so safety and common sense should always prevail.
While winter walking is a good way to warm up and get in a workout, it requires different footwear than regular walking shoes. The correct footwear will provide support, warmth and traction for traversing various conditions.
Start by choosing footwear that is warm. Certain boots and booties will have a lining that improves heat retention. Wear warm socks and waterproof or water-resistant shoes. They will protect against wet, chilled feet if you come across slushy puddles along the way. Although wet feet might be merely an inconvenience other times of the year, in very cold temperatures, a cold and wet body can be susceptible to hypothermia and even frostbite.
Look for shoes that have a mid-height ankle. This height offers support and stability to the ankles when walking on uneven surfaces, such as snow-covered paths. Also, should your foot slip on slick pavement, a taller shoe will protect the ankle against sprains or fractures.
Additionally, choose a shoe or boot that has a thick but not too heavy sole for better traction on icy areas.
Layering is essential when exercising outdoors in cold weather. You want to ensure that you will be warm enough, but not too warm that you begin to sweat and run the risk of hypothermia later on. Dress so that you feel chilled when stepping outdoors, not toasty warm. As your body warms up with the exercise, it will reach a comfortable temperature.
A windbreaker is good for blocking chilly, winter winds. Choose a jacket that will move with your body and not impede walking stride or jogging ability. Tights or yoga pants that wick moisture away will insulate your legs, and a fleece vest can help keep your body’s core warm when it is particularly cold outside.
Don’t overlook gloves and a hat when walking. These items will prevent heat from escaping through your extremities.
Winter conditions may lead to snowblindness or reduced visibility for drivers. If you will be walking on roads, dress for visibility. Avoid colors that will blend in with snowy surroundings and opt for bright flashes of color that make you more visible, particularly at dawn, dusk and night.
Whenever possible, do your outdoor exercising when the sun is up. You’ll benefit from the mood-boosting properties of the sun.