Tips for Working Out in Cold Weather vs. Hot Weather

by Eli Reece

Tips for Working Out in Cold Weather vs. Hot Weather

Rain or shine. Shivering snow or scorching sun.

There are no off seasons when it comes to staying in shape. But as the weather changes to its extreme forms during the winter and summer months, the things you should keep in mind to stay safe shift as well.

The following are helpful tips to keep you healthy during your workouts in the frigid cold or the frying heat.

Tips for cold weather workouts

Dress warm AND dry

The fastest way to drain your body of heat is to get wet. Water is an incredibly efficient heat conductor that can move heat out and away from your body. Getting wet during your cold weather workouts will likely cause you to call it quits earlier and significantly increase your risks of hypothermia and frostbite.

Avoid the instinct to grab your cozy cotton t-shirts and sweats when dressing up for a cold weather workout. Your first layer of clothing should be synthetic fabrics such as polyester, nylon, or polypropylene.

Natural fabrics such as wool are also an excellent option for your base layer. If you’ve ever worn a wool sweater, you’ve probably noticed it’s difficult to get wet but also extremely itchy. For a running base layer, try out shirts made of soft merino wool.

Bundle up…then peel it off

Sweat-wicking clothes aren’t enough. You need to add layers on top of them to help trap warm air against your body and keep the surrounding elements at bay.

Start off with a base layer of synthetic fabrics or sweat-wicking natural fabrics, then add a middle layer such as a polar fleece. Last, but not least, use a windbreaker or waterproof jacket as an outer shell to protect you from wind, rain, and snow.

Don’t forget your winter workout accessories! The fingers, ears, toes, and nose are most affected by cold weather due to the body pulling more blood to its core, leaving less blood and heat available for extremities. Beanies, headbands, earmuffs, and gloves are excellent options to help keep your outer limbs warm as you brace the chill. Running shoes are not designed to trap heat, so you may find your toes feeling a little numb. If so, try adding some shoe covers.

Exercising gets hot. As you start to break a sweat and feel your body temperature reach a comfortable baseline, start peeling off those layers. Tie your clothes around your waist in case you get cold later.

Wear shoes with traction

The winter brings with it rain, snow, and dreaded ice, making winter workouts even more treacherous. Keep your running routes to plowed and salted surfaces. Back roads and park trails may not be as well maintained and could be covered in sheets of slippery ice.

If you intend on walking or running in the snow, invest in some spikes to attach to your shoes. However, you should only wear spikes on snow or ice, not pavement. Spikes on the pavement will severely impede your balance, leading to an increased risk of falling.

Break out the neon

If you hadn’t noticed, it gets quite dark quite early during the winter months. Black may be chic and stylish, but blending into the night is not the safest idea for outdoor workouts.

Break out those 80’s neon colored clothes to ensure you are plenty visible as you work out outdoors. Also, you may want to consider purchasing some wearable blinking lights and a headlamp for added visibility.

Cool down then change

Once you stop moving after a cold weather workout, the chill will come on fast. But that doesn’t mean you should skip the cool down phase of your workout all together.

Gradually decrease the intensity of your workout during the last five to ten minutes. Once your breathing and heart rate start to return to a normal baseline, go into some static stretching. Then, you can take off your damp workout clothes.

Hop into a nice warm shower and some dry, clean clothes to fully deter any lasting effects of the cold.

Tips for hot weather workouts

Hydrate properly

Water is always your best friend, but it’s especially important on those gruelingly hot days. If you plan to work out for longer than 60 minutes, you will also want to sip on a sports drink along with water.

Sports drinks help restore your body’s potassium and electrolytes as you sweat those nutrients away.

Don’t bundle up

Unlike the need for extra layers during cold weather, working out in the heat requires only one layer of sweat-wicking clothes to help heat escape your body.

However, you should still avoid the black attire. We know it looks good, but darker clothes attract and trap sunshine, increasing the risk of your body overheating. Always wear lighter colored clothes to avoid this effect and to stay visible to others.

Apply sunscreen

We all want that nice even tan, but working out with a sun burn…no one wants to do that. Before heading out into the sunshine, apply sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or more to any areas of skin that are exposed.

You’ll want to use a water-resistant “sports sunscreen” that will keep your skin protected as you’re sweating.

Check the clock

Timing your workout during the summer months is key. If your watch says it’s anywhere from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., avoid doing an outdoor workout. That time frame is the hottest of the day. Try to plan your workouts before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m.

Embrace the water

The hot months are a perfect excuse for you to experiment with water sports. Try switching up your workouts by going for a swim, trying out surfing, or taking up paddle boarding.

If you still prefer to go for a run, try a rainy-day run. Running in the rain can help keep you cool, and many athletes find it rather refreshing. Wear waterproof clothing and shoes and use waterproof accessories such as phone cases.

A little rain won’t hurt you, but if you see any lightning or hear any thunder, return to the indoors immediately.

As with any workout in any weather, it is crucial to stretch and warm up to get your body loose and the blood flowing. If the temperature outside is too extreme in either direction, a session at the gym or a bodyweight workout at home are great ways to get moving without enduring the cold or heat.

No matter the season, stay safe, stay active, and stay in shape!