When it comes to Mother Nature, she's a fickle creature. This can make planning your outdoor workouts a challenge, especially with the extreme New England weather conditions. But don't let this discourage you. A little planning is all you need to enjoy working out in the great outdoors.
When exercising in extreme heat, precautions should always be taken to combat potential risk. While the Ultimate Bootcamp Trainers do all that we can to adjust the workout content and intensity, it is important to follow these simple guidelines:
1. Drink Plenty of Fluids. Dehydration is one of the top risks associated with exercising in heat - and the cold. Clear urine is a good indicator of being hydrated, while dark-colored urine indicates dehydration. If you find that your weight increases during exercise, you may be consuming too much water.
2. Wear Appropriate Outdoor Workout Clothes. Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. In the hot sun, a hat and sunscreen is helpful. Wear moisture-wicking clothing so sweat can evaporate. Better yet, invest in some clothes made with CoolMax®, Drymax®, Smartwool or polypropylene. These fibers have tiny channels that wick the moisture from your skin to the outer layer of the clothing where it can evaporate more easily.
3. Use Sunscreen. Sunburn will increase the risk of dehydration, and lowers your chances of the body cooling itself. Even in cold conditions, any exposed skin should be protected.
4. Use Common Sense. Avoid hot foods, alcohol and heavy foods that increase your core temperature. If you feel any headaches, fatigue or irritability or notice your exercise performance decreasing, stop exercising and cool off.
When exercising in winter weather, precautions can be taken to reduce risks such as hypothermia or frostbite. While there are no definitive standards for when it is considered “too cold for outdoor exercise” (just think about the marathoners in the North and South Poles at -40 or -50 degrees!), the following precautions will also help to make your workout even more enjoyable:
5. Dress in Layered Clothing. Several thin layers are warmer than one heavy layer. Layers are also easier to add or remove and thus, better regulate your core temperature. The goal is to keep the body warm and minimize shivering.
6. Cover your Head. Your head should be covered while exercising in the cold, because heat loss from the head and neck may be as much as 50 percent of the total heat being lost by your body.
7. Cover your Mouth. To warm the air before you breathe it, use a scarf or mask. Do this especially if breathing cold air causes angina (chest pain) or you are prone to upper respiratory problems.
8. Stay Dry. Wet, damp clothing, whether from perspiration or precipitation, significantly increases body-heat loss. Those same moisture-wicking clothing you used in the summer make a great base layer in the winter.
9. Keep your Feet Dry. Use a fabric that will wick perspiration away from the skin. Polypropylene, wool or other fabrics that wick moisture away from the skin and retain insulating properties keep the body warm when wet.
10. Stay Hydrated. Dehydration affects your body's ability to regulate body heat and increases the risk of frostbite. Fluids, especially water, are as important in cold weather as in the heat. Avoid consuming alcohol or beverages containing caffeine, because these items are dehydrating.
11. Avoid Alcohol. Alcohol dilates blood vessels and increases heat loss so the odds of experiencing a hypothermic event increase. Alcohol can also impair judgment to the extent that you may not make the best or brightest decisions in a cold weather emergency. It's best to leave the alcohol behind when you head out into the cold.
12. Know your Limits. Everyone has their own idea of the perfect exercising weather. You might love the summer heat that makes you sweat like you're in a sauna. Your friend might still be wearing shorts when it's 35 degrees outside. When in doubt, do what's best for your body. That way, you can be sure to focus on the exercises, not the weather.