How to Stay Safe Training During Winter

stay safe training during winter

There’s a lot more to physical training than just lifting weights or going on a run. Proper hydration, nutrition, and warm-ups are necessary if you want to stay safe training during winter; or anytime of the year really. Sounds easy right? Drink another glass of water, eat some food, and stretch your body. Well if it were then I wouldn’t have much else to say, but there’s important information for you to take action with that pertains to these fundamental concepts for training safely.


Hydration is Paramount During Winter

It’s cold and drinking something nice and hot comforts our souls, but this comfort usually causes us to drink less water. The primary reason for this is because most people believe they are sweating less during the winter, but in reality we sweat a pretty good amount. This keeps our bodies cool in the summer, and when winter comes around what do you usually do? Bundle up to keep warm, which causes the body’s temperatures to increase.

It’s similar to being exposed to 90+ degree weather.

So your body sweats; just not profusely to where you really know. Then you go for a 3-5 mile cardio-based run with hot chocolate in your system and all of a sudden collapse from severe cramping. This brisk run for nice cool air just took a turn for the worst. Staying hydrated during winter is just as crucial as in summer.

60% of our body weight is water, and water is essential for us to even live. Studies show that we can only survive 2-4 days without water coming from some type of source.

Yes, I didn’t specifically say from drinking a glass of water, but you should strive to drink eight glasses daily. However, you can also receive water from nutritious fruits and vegetables, which also contain an abundance of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. All of these micro and macro nutrients are great for your body.

Note: Eating non-starchy vegetables are great for when you’re on a diet because you technically don’t have to worry so much about their calories and sugar content. For example, at dinner eat a steak with spinach and tomatoes. The saturated fats from beef are good for you if you don’t eat excessively.
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Examples of water dense fruits and vegetables are:water dense fruits and vegetables

  • Cucumbers
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Eggplant
  • Zucchini
  • Grapefruit
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach

Don’t chug glasses of water down all at once; that’s just silly and actually bad for your body. Drink water throughout the day just like you would with eating. During training only sip on water and never drink a lot at once. This will also cause cramping.


Proper Nutrition During Winter

Eating enough nutrients is vital for your overall health. They allow your body to move when you want to, cause hormones to be produced, and even assist with repairing your body after training. This especially applies to those of you that like to run outside. When you perform activities to warm-up during the colder months, you actually use a lot more energy and risk getting sick even quicker.

Sweating as we mentioned previously is used to cool your body down. But when you sweat outside and cease training it causes your internal temperature to drop nearly twice as fast. Statistics shows a good percentage of fatalities occur during winter due to hypothermia.

women cardioWe also burn a lot of carbs during this type of training as well. Glucose is our primary energy source stored as glycogen until it becomes depleted, and when we run outside the energy storages deplete rather quickly. Sure, fat becomes a secondary energy source, but there wouldn’t be a readily available supply of fats to keep your body fueled in the cold for too long.

The solution? Run for shorter time periods while exposed outdoors to the cold, and eat an extra amount of carb-based calories 1-2 hours pre-training. Training indoors? Still consume enough nutrients to fuel your body efficiently for intense training. Macronutrients are your primary concern, which are:

  • Protein – All body functions need this nutrient. Helps with skeletal muscle repair and growth. Fills your stomach to make you feel fuller.
  • Carbohydrates – Primary energy source. Highly effective when consumed in the proper amounts.
  • Fats – Secondary energy source. Protects organs and muscles. Helps with hormones.

Consuming foods high in these macros is important, but you should only eat enough of each to support your daily needs. Protein supplements are available that contain all of these macronutrients, or just pure in protein mainly. Micronutrients are just as important, which we mentioned previously. Some important ones for those that train are:

  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin C
  • All B-Vitamins
  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc

It’s best to get most micronutrients from whole foods when possible, but multivitamins specific for men and women are great for keeping your body healthy.

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Stay Safe Training w/ Stretches to Prevent Injuries!

fit female stretchingStretching is important for anybody performing physical activities whether it’s for work or working out. However, there are two forms of stretches that we primarily focus on. They are static stretching and dynamic stretching. Stretching pre-workout is essential for optimal performance regardless if you’re new, intermediate, or advanced in physical training.

Static stretching is when you hold a stretch for 30 seconds and keep the stretch continuous i.e. no movement of your joints after being pulled to their maximum range of motion. This type of stretching is not optimal for training, and research shows that your strength output is actually decreased along with your ability to use energy efficiently.

Dynamic stretching is what you should be doing, which are movements that some use for exercising instead of just working out. You use your joints to perform actions that pertain to what you would be doing during a lift. For example, butt kicks stretch out your quads and knee joints, and the exercise resembles movements for the leg extensions.

Please review the graphic I created for dynamic stretching examples:

dynamic stretching routine

Static stretches aren’t useless, but they are better for post workout after you have fully used your joints and muscles to fatigue. They are also good for using during a work place environment where optimal energy output isn’t an issue.

Stay Safe Training All Year

You should of course train safely all year long, but the details presented for you today help especially well during the winter months. Many people as they age begin to have achy bones and joints due to the cold, and dynamic stretching is also great for helping them get warmed up. Consuming more essential fatty acids may decrease the inflammation as well. Eating nutritious foods, stay hydrates, and train smartly friends!

Do it. Live it.

Brian Pankau (CPT, SFN)

Brian Pankau

Brian Pankau

Experienced personal trainer and strength coach

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