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Exercising Outside vs. Inside

Here are some tips on exercising in the winter.

 In Minnesota we are both blessed and cursed for having four seasons of weather. As we close in on our winter months and you’re trying to decide whether to exercise outside or inside, keep these tips in mind. All that is required for wintertime workouts is some planning and employing safety precautions.

              If you prefer to workout outside, keep these tips in mind.

- Exercising in extreme cold can promote frostbite, especially if you have any bare skin showing, so avoid running in shorts.

- Exercising outside when the temperature is below zero is especially dangerous when there is ice on the ground. The number one cause of injury during the winter is falling on ice. Falling can cause broken bones, fractures, muscle tears, sprains, dislocations and soft tissue injuries.

- Get warm first. A proper warm-up is critical. Cold temperatures can make your muscles tight and, therefore, more prone to injuries. So it’s important to get them warmed up prior to engaging in intense physical activity.

- Insulate your body. The best approach to dressing for outdoor exercise is with layers. Layering provides the most effective heating method, plus it allows you to remove the top layer if you get too hot. The layer closest to your skin should allow moisture to be wicked away. The top layer should be both wind and water resistant.

- No sweat. Don’t assume that you have to sweat in order to get a good workout. You should avoid sweating that causes the clothing layer closest to your skin to get wet and cause you to be chilled. Instead, monitor your intensity through a heart-rate monitor or perceived exertion.

- Don’t strip when you get inside. While you may be tempted to immediately remove layers when returning inside, give your body time to adjust. Post-exercise hypothermia is possible. This happens when your body rapidly loses its heating stores.

- Drink up. It’s just as important to stay hydrated when exercising in winter as it is in summer, even though you might not feel as thirsty.

- Lighten up. If possible, it’s best to exercise outdoors during daylight areas. But with shorter days, that can be difficult to do. If you exercise outdoors when it’s dark, wear reflective materials to ensure that you can be seen by motorists.    

 If you prefer to stay warm and exercise inside, keep these tips in mind.

 - Walk at an indoor location such as a mall. If you need extra motivation, join a walking group. This will help you stay accountable to someone other than yourself.

- Join a health club. This will allow you a large variety of physical activities to choose from every week, and give you the social interaction that many hide away from in the winter months.

- Create a home gym. This doesn’t have to be expensive. You can easily create a great workout routine with just a set of dumbbells, an exercise ball and a jump rope. Get all of this for around $50.

- If you have stairs nearby, spend as little as 20 minutes at a time climbing up and down the stairs for a very intense and efficient workout.

- Get wet. Find a local indoor pool you can use. Try swimming, water aerobics, or even just walking or running laps in the water. Water-based exercise has been proven to not only improve cardiovascular health, but also muscle tone. It is very gentle on joints.

 - Visit a library. Usually local libraries offer exercise videos you can check out for free. Pick up a new one to try every time you return the previous vide

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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