Staying Active in Cold Weather

The change of seasons causes the ambient temperature changes as well. As we are currently in the winter season, the temperatures drop. When it comes to physical activity, some individuals choose to take exercising indoors and some choose to workout outside in the cold.

However as the temperatures are low outside, the temperature of our muscles can also drop, which makes this a huge aspect for the sporting performance.

One of the biggest considerations for training in the cold is the warm up. It is very important to warm up before any type of physical activity especially cold weather, as the cold temperatures can significantly reduce muscle function. The decline of muscle temperature may result in reduced force up to 20% studies suggest, and they can take longer to build force.

As we know that the brain sends signals to the muscles via nerves, the rate of nerve conduction slows down in cold circumstances. On the other hand, muscles produce heat when they are activated, which therefore provides a protection from the cold.

Warm up before exercise is crucial in such low temperatures, and can decrease the risk of injury up to 40%. Additionally, warm ups that consist of strengthening, jumping, balance, and agility exercises potentially reduce the risk of non-contact injuries such as ACL-tear. However, exercise form is of a huge importance in such circumstances.

Some people rush the warm up section of the workout and neglect its importance, so take some quality time and put effort in to doing correct and effective warm up with good form. This will also make you feel better and ready for exercising in the cold.

Most physical activities outdoor include running, rope skipping, jumping, and others. Studies suggest that dynamic stretching during warm up could be more effective than static stretching.

Examples of dynamic stretch can be forward lunges with a twist, knees to chest, high knees, and side shuffle. Static stretches on the other hand include stretch holds for 5-30 seconds, such examples are standing hamstring stretch, shoulder, chest, back, calf, and adductor stretches.

It is suggested that dynamic stretches can help with the warm-up of muscles and improve performance more than prolonged holds of stretches. Now that we know the importance of warm up, another benefit of it is the improved muscle flexibility and readiness for the upcoming exercises.

A simple jog for 5 minutes can improve flexibility and warm up the muscles, and can help preventing muscle strains which is a quick stretch of the muscle beyond its flexibility limit. Most of the exercise specialists recommend that warm up and stretching is essential, as studies suggests that it’s a way of injury prevention.

However, the effect of warm up doesn’t last forever. It is also recommended the warm up and stretching to last at least 15 minutes prior physical activity to gain most of its benefits.

On the other hand, this means physical activity should be constantly maintained in cold weather while the muscles are still warm and loose, but if you stop and rest for prolonged time muscles gradually cool down and become less flexible which is a thing that we have to avoid. Depending on the exercise or sport, some exercise specific warm-ups may be required.

Reference:

PAY, B. Great Facts And Tips For Warming Up In Cold Weather.

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