With winter approaching, it can be daunting to begin or even just maintain a workout routine. Significant weather excluded, there is no reason to stop outdoor workouts. Your movement of choice—running, hiking, cross-training, or other—is doable with a little preparation.

Dress the Part 

Layer to stay warm, but do it the right way. It is also important to stay dry. Always start with a moisture-wicking base layer, followed by additional mid-layers. Depending on the weather, an outer layer that blocks the wind or rain may also be necessary. Remove layers as you need to prevent over-sweating. Because heat is lost quickly through the body’s extremities such as the hands, feet, and head. Gloves, moisture-wicking socks, and headgear are just as important as the layers on the body. 

Don’t Skip the Warmup

In addition to being a cornerstone of any great workout, properly warming up is incredibly important in cold weather. It can reduce risk of injury by preparing and stretching muscles for rigorous movement. Start with moderate bodyweight exercises. The goal is to move the body through a full range of motion while increasing blood flow. 

While it may not be necessary during warmer months, airways need to be warmed up too. In the cold, lungs and airways tend to constrict when strained. Include deep tempo-breathing into your dynamic warmup routine. Inhale and exhale for 2 counts each. Repeat for 3 counts each. Continue increasing to a challenging, but manageable count.

Make Smart Choices

  1. With less daylight, make sure you can be seen. Wear bright colors, reflective accessories, and lights—especially if your workout takes you on streets.
  2. Buddy up when you go outdoors. Someone having your back during early-morning or late-nights routines makes it safer—and more fun.
  3. Hydrate! Even if it’s cold, your body still loses water during exercise. 
  4. Protect your skin with sunscreen and lip balm. It’s still easy to get sunburned in the cold.

Exercising in the cold is that much easier if you’re prepared for all the obstacles. Give yourself every advantage to be successful as possible to maintain your health.

5-Minute Warmup for Any Type of Workout
Bonus: Incorporate the deep tempo breathing during each of these exercises.

Bodyweight Squats 8-10Slow and full range of motion
Hip Circles8-10 each sideThink hula-hooping 
Forward Leg Swings8-10 each sideControlled forward and backward swinging of each leg
Side Leg Swings8-10 each sideControlled side to side swinging of each leg
Core Twists10 on each sideThink swinging a baseball bat in both directions. (let the back foot rotate on each twist)
YTA’s8-10With your arms, lift and move them through the letters Y,T,and A with the palms facing up 
Pushups8-10Elevated if needed. Slow and full range of motion
High Knees30 SecondsLight feet, making as little noise as possible
Butt Kicks30 SecondsTall posture, with controlled movements

Wes Ashcraft is a Program Director at the YMCA, and has served as a personal trainer, group exercise instructor, and Wellness Director. He holds specializations in Weight Loss, Performance Enhancement, Corrective Exercise, and Nutrition through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, which he has used to help many people on their fitness journeys. Wes stresses the importance of balance while creating small but effective changes to achieve your goals.