Unlike bright summer mornings when its nice and warm for a jog or a run, cold, dark winter mornings can be quite endearing to stay curled up in bed. However, once you jump into your jersey and shoes, things begin to change in an instant. And a good winter warmup, would set the pace for a fulfilling workout.
Whether you’ve been a regular outdoor runner for years or you’ve only recently started up a new exercise routine, the chill weather can keep you indoors, if not disrupt your regular workouts. But with many gyms closed due to the current pandemic, outdoor activities are the best bet.
Fitness freak Nageeb al Khaldi, “The best way to start your daily morning routine is by stretching for like 5 minutes, then going for a brisk walk, cycling, running, or climbing stairs. It will help to activate your body warm up, regulate blood flow, and make you feel active and energetic.”
Khaldi recommends following the warm up activity with a few exercises like push ups and crunches to strengthen the upper body. “You can then shower, have your breakfast, and start your day with positive energy,” he adds.
Talking about his winter warmups, Olympian and sprinter Barakat al Harthi recommends working out every morning during winter to maintain one’s fitness quotient. His own regime is a combination of indoor/outdoor warmups and activities besides workouts in a gym during the day.
“My daily training begins with a ten-minute warm up. Sometimes I run at the beach, sometimes around my house or at any suitable place. After warming up in the morning, I then proceed for more rigorous workouts in the afternoon. Twice a week, I train in the gym. I also run in the hills once a week to increase my speed and endurance levels,” he said adding that it helps him stay fit and better his performance. He is currently getting set for the upcoming Islamic Solidarity Games (in Turkey in August) and the Asian Games (in China in September).
Here tips to pep up your winter workouts:
Seek a willing partner
When exercising alone, there is only one person you have to convince to skip a session and very often it succeeds. But if you exercise with a partner – spouse, sibling friend or a group – there will be some pressure to ignore your inclinations. Partners and exercise buddies provide motivation and support fo keeping commitments.
Make it social
Some people love exercising on their own, but for others, it is helpful to have company. Being part of an exercise group is a good way to stay on track every morning. Research shows that those who meet up with friends to exercise are less likely to pull out at the first pretext.
Get the right gear
Fitness activity, especially in winter, calls for appropriate gear to avoid getting under the weather. For events like running, hiking, etc, consider layers that can be taken off and added back later, allowing you to balance rising body temperatures with the cold air temperatures.
The layer closest to your skin should be a moisture-wicking material, like lightweight polyester or polypropylene, to take moisture away from your skin to the outer layers to evaporate. The second layer is the insulating layer, which should be wool or polyester fleece. The third, outer layer needs to be wind and rain-repellent.
There are also specially made caps and winter hats made to help wick away sweat while retaining heat.
Walking and running
Walking and running are the easiest of the outdoor exercises to keep up during the cold winter months as they don’t really require much in the way of extra gear or certain conditions. As long as it’s not too cold, you can pretty much put on your shoes and, with some extra preparation, hit the road.
Stretch it out
With any movement-related activity, warm-ups and cool-downs are essential, especially during cold days. A good warm-up, which uses movement to warm your muscles up as opposed to the more traditional static stretching, is ideal as it gives the body an active range of motion to warm muscles.
Stretching is a must before running but if you’re just getting ready for a cold, winter walk, it’s not as essential.
Be sure you get the right shoes for running. Having ill-fitting sneakers can derail your running before it really gets started. If you’re new to running or not naturally a runner, it’s best to start with a running programme or consider getting enrolled with a group so that you get acquainted with the required guidelines.
Like a lot of these activities, cycling is definitely doable in the winter but your ability to pull it off regularly may vary, depending on where you live and the corresponding weather. Be careful to stick to clear roads, especially if you’re new to cycling. Also, as with running, make sure you incorporate dynamic stretching into your warm-up routine so you can get your body warm and ready for the ride.
Keep track of your training
There are numerous apps and gadgets that can help keep track of your activities. And it doesn’t need to be tech heavy. Making a note or placing a dot on a calendar or chart can help you visualise how much you have already done. If counting steps is your thing, be aware that just racking up the numbers is not enough.
Give yourself rest
Rest and recovery are important, especially if you are undertaking intense exercise or building up your fitness. Studies show that athletes who are sleep deprived may experience subtle changes in hormone levels, leading to higher levels of cortisol and a decrease in human growth hormone, which is active during tissue repair. Be it a hot drink or a warm bath to soothe your cold bones, having a reward to look forward to can be key on cold days.