Just because the winter months have rolled around it shouldn’t end your outdoor workouts. If done safely, your outdoor workouts can continue to improve your health throughout the winter. Whether you’re out for a run or competing as a weekend warrior it’s important to follow these key strategies to perform the best you can. Stay warm by wearing layers. It’s important to wear many lighter layers of clothing rather than one heavy layer. This will better allow you to add or subtract clothing to help regulate your core body temperature. You also don’t want heavy bulky clothing to weigh you down. Heavy clothing will also make you sweat more making you wet and colder in the end. Staying dry is very important. The more you sweat the colder your body temperature will get when the wind blows by as you run. Also start out running into the wind so that when you’re headed home and sweating you’re not running against the wind. You must stay hydrated. It is important to drink plenty of water or sports drinks even if you are not thirsty. You will not be as thirsty exercising in the cold, but you still sweat and those fluids need to be replaced. Alcohol is not a good idea since it vasodilates your vessels and causes blood to stay in extremities and away from your core. Getting a proper warm up is also important. The cold temperature will shunt you’re blood out of you extremities to your core. This means muscles, tendons, and ligaments will feel tighter and frailer. Add an extra five minutes of walking or active stretching to your warm-up to help prevent injuries. Keeping your head warm is also a very good idea. You lose as much as 50% of your body heat through your head. By keeping a hat on you will be able to preserve that heat loss in turn keeping your core temperature up while to exercise. This is important to prevent hypothermia. Follow these few easy steps and your outdoor workouts will keep in great shape all winter long. Christopher Maguire, DPT