Dressing for Winter Workouts

author : AMSSM
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When the days are short and the mercury drops, it’s a challenge to exercise comfortably and safely. Here are some tips to help you manage your workouts during the winter chill.

Consider your own tolerance for cold

  • A person with a significant amount of lean body mass has an advantage in the cold. Muscle generates a lot of heat and provides thermal insulation.
     

  • Body size can affect your cold tolerance. Short, small people have a large surface area-to-body mass ratio. A greater percentage of body in contact with the environment relative to size allows cold or heat to be absorbed more quickly. Smaller can be chillier.
     

  • Fat lying under the skin doesn’t transfer heat well so be thankful for the extra warmth a little “extra padding” provides.

Choose appropriate gear for warmth and safety

  • Dress in layers. You’ll trap and warm the air between each layer for an insulating effect. Dressing in thin layers allows you to adjust by peeling down as your body temperature rises or zipping up tight if you’re running into the wind.
     

  • Don’t wear cotton next to your skin. Cotton captures moisture and traps it next to your body. Your body loses heat four times faster when exposed to water versus air of the same temperature. Choose a thin “wicking” material for your inner layer such as polypropylene, Coolmax or Drylete.
     

  • Choose a microfiber outer layer that repels wind and rain, yet allows body heat and sweat to pass through.
     

  • Avoid the tendency to overdress. You will reduce unnecessary sweating which contributes to heat loss.
     

  • Maximize your visibility. Natural light is limited in winter so wear bright colors with reflective strips and plenty of flashing lights if you’re on your bike.
     

  • Protect your skin. Sunscreen, lip balm, hats, and mittens will protect sensitive skin from sunburn, windburn, and frostbite.

Adjust your workout to the conditions

  • During a training run, choose a route that allows you to run out against the wind and return with the wind at your back.
     

  • During competition, wear heavier clothing warming up and continue your warm-up until right before the start of the event. Muscle fiber recruitment patterns are different when muscles are cold, which reduces power and speed. If you can achieve a normal body temperature before and during the event, then your performance should not suffer.
     

  • Put on warm, dry clothing immediately after your workout. When you stop exercising, you generate much less heat and the wet, cold clothing will pull warmth away from your body.
     

  • Consider your options. If your favorite training routes are covered in snow and ice, get your heart pumping with a snowshoe run or some cross-country skiing. Or hit the weight room for some targeted weight training. Gains in strength, power, and stability achieved in the weight room may translate to stronger performances and reduced risk of injury in next season’s races.

With proper clothing and exercise adjustments, you can enjoy a season of safe, effective and fun training!

This article was provided by Dr Lisa R Callahan and the staff of the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

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date: December 17, 2007

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AMSSM

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was formed in 1991 to fill a void that has existed in sports medicine from its earliest beginnings. The founders most recognized and expert sports medicine specialists realized that while there are several physician organizations which support sports medicine, there has not been a forum specific for primary care non-surgical sports medicine physicians.

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avatarAMSSM

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was formed in 1991 to fill a void that has existed in sports medicine from its earliest beginnings. The founders most recognized and expert sports medicine specialists realized that while there are several physician organizations which support sports medicine, there has not been a forum specific for primary care non-surgical sports medicine physicians.

FIND A SPORTS MEDICINE DOCTOR

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