Now is the time when we expect to see plenty of people working on their New Year’s resolutions and new exercise routines. While we love this season for the extra motivation and new beginnings, there’s one aspect of this time of year that we’re not so crazy about: cold weather.

Cold weather isn’t terrible if you’re committed to working out in a gym, but what about those of us that choose to get our workouts in otherwise? Whether it’s a family hike in the woods or a long solo run, working out in the cold doesn’t have to be miserable — if you prepare.

Here are a few things you need to know about cold weather workouts:

  • Cold weather causes muscles to lose heat and contract, which is what causes tightness in your body as you run in freezing temps. Your joints get tighter, nerves can get pinched, and your muscles can even begin to lose their range of motion. This is why it feels so difficult to run for long distances or finish that long walk you set out to complete.
  • Muscles are forced to work harder in the cold, causing damage to tissue. This is what makes us feel more sore after a workout in the cold.

Don’t hang up those running shoes and cold-weather running jackets just yet — there’s still hope.

Here are 5 things to do to decrease the effects of cold weather running on our bodies and make it a little more bearable:

  1. Begin your workout with light cardio like brisk walking in order to raise your core temperature and strengthen the flow of blood and oxygen through your body.
  2. Warm up for about 10 minutes before your workout. A good rule of thumb is to add an extra 5 minutes of warm-up for every 10-degree drop below 35 degrees F (and if you’re exercising in weather colder than 35F, we’d love to understand how you stay motivated!).
  3. After you warm up, add in a few bodyweight exercises such as pushups or lunges in order to keep your blood flowing.
  4. Keep moving!
  5. Follow up by stretching those tight muscles, like your hamstrings, chest, back, and shoulders. This will help prevent soreness and enhance your performance.

Don’t give up on exercise when it’s cold outside; instead, simply modify the way you exercise in order to get the most out of this time. And if you need a little extra recovery, let’s talk.

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