Tips for Winter Exercise


With one of our worst summer heat waves almost over, we need to think about exercise in the fall and winter to protect ourselves from the extreme cold while exercising for bone health.

We all know that weight bearing exercise is really good for our bones, since our muscles pull on the bone, when we are going through the remodeling process achieved during body weight bearing exercise.  Weight bearing exercise is any exercise that is done while on your feet bearing you own body weight.

Here’s a list of things you can use to keep warm while out exercising during the colder months of the year and ways to make your exercise session safer and more productive.

  • Exercising in the rain comes with its own issues that we must follow to protect the body from excessive dampness.  If you get wet you can catch a cold or other more serious medical issue, so stay as dry as possible.
  • Traveling to a warm place for vacations that include exercise to maintain your routine, is a good way to have wonderful weather on the whole trip.  If you are a runner, Florida offers 7 marathons in February alone.  For similar temperatures see California and Arizona trips_._ Los Angeles Chinatown Firecracker 5-K/10-K, the Hilton Head Half-Marathon and 10-K, and the MyoMed Ragnar Relay Del Sol in Arizona. Or go to the Race Finder to choose your own distance and destination. What more motivation do you need?
  • Remove clothes quickly after your workout. If you should perspire during your exercise session, remove these wet things before you get a chill or issues with wearing perspiration-soaked clothes.
  • Focus on maintenance instead of speed while working out in the fall and winter months.  Maintenance workouts increase your stamina, in cold weather, providing you with greater strength to last for the full session.
  • Avoid windy areas when doing your weight bearing routine for strong bones.  Wind makes walking and running more difficult, especially if you are walking straight into the wind.  Having a tail wind boost your speed and endurance.
  • Pre-workout warm-ups are very important for your muscle health and to protect against injury.  Warm ups may include doing some stretching yoga, running up and down a flight of stairs or doing some cleaning chores around the house.  Warm ups should include any movement that warm and stretches your muscles to prepare them for the workout and prevent injury.
  • Be seen while walking and exercising to prevent a car from getting to close and hitting you and to protect from injuries that occur from not being seen well enough by motorists and others exercising on the same route.
  • Choose your clothes carefully. You want to be warm without sweating so much you get a chill. "The rule of thumb is to dress as if it is 20 degrees warmer," says Maine Track Club president Mark Grandonico. "You should be slightly cool when you start." Think layers of technical fabrics, to wick sweat, with zippers at the neck and underarm area to vent air as you heat up. You'll learn your own preferences, but readers Darrell Arribas, of Cumberland, Rhode Island, and Eric Maniloff, of Stittsville, Ontario, both helped create these general guidelines. Assume you always wear gloves or mittens and a hat.

30 degrees: 2 tops, 1 bottom. Long-sleeve base layer and a vest keep your core warm.** 10 to 20 degrees:2 tops, 2 bottoms. A jacket over your base layer, and wind pants over the tights. 0 to 10 degrees:** 3 tops, 2 bottoms. Two tops (fleece for the cold-prone) and a jacket. Windbrief for the fellas.** Minus 10 to 0 degrees:3 tops, 2 bottoms, extra pair of mittens, 1 scarf wrapped around mouth or a balaclava. Minus 20 degrees:** 3 tops, 3 bottoms, 2 extra pairs of mittens, 1 balaclava, sunglasses.

  • Protect your feet against the cold and dampness**.** Wear workout shoes that have a minimum of mesh on the upper portion of the shoe to prevent water from getting into the shoe.  Wicking socks help to eliminate the moisture in your shoes and it prevents your feet from getting too cold.
  • Motivation is important for a successful work-out. Having a workout buddy helps to keep you motivated.  You can’t flake out when you have a friend waiting for you.

Try these tips the next time you venture out in the cold.  If you’ve discovered any new ideas to make your exercise more comfortable and safe, please post your ideas in the comment section below.  We’d love to hear from you and about your great ideas for exercising with bone loss!


Runners World

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Pam is a patient educator and digital health writer who has worked for Remedy Health Media on their osteoporosis web site since 2008.  Pam is also a group leader and moderator with the National Osteoporosis Foundation Inspire online community since 2012, answering questions and guiding members who are newly diagnosed with bone loss.