Let me test your weather knowledge: What is the technical term for a sunny, warm day which follows two cold, icy days? Meteorologists call it Monday. Even though the calendar says January, the weather has been crazy. This past week we had sub-freezing temperatures and ice followed by mid- and upper 70s.
For a fitness enthusiast longing to get outdoors, it is downright frustrating. In the hopes that my column will somehow appease the “Weather Gods” and give us some consistently nice weather, I am dedicating this column to exercise in the great outdoors.
Living in North Carolina, we have the type of climate that makes outdoor activities possible even in the winter. Here are just a few of the ways you can get some outdoor fitness fun:
— Running and walking: Warm or cold, you can get a good pair of shoes, grab a friend or your dog and get going. Make sure you dress appropriately and in layers in case you need to strip down. If you want some competition, sign up for a road race. The Rumba on the Lumber is coming up in March so you can train for it or log on to runnersworld.com to find out about other upcoming races.
— Cycling: Bike riding is pretty much an all-weather sport, the same as running. Make sure you dress for the temperatures and keep an eye on weather reports regarding ice or snow, which could make riding dangerous. It is also best to find a group to ride with to keep safe.
— Golf: For die-hard golfers like yours truly, a little cold weather does not deter a round of winter golf. There are winter golf gloves, cart covers and heaters if you are really in need of some warmth. If you want to keep warm and get some cardio, walk the course instead. On a really cold and frosty morning, call ahead to make sure the course is open. Many times, tee times are delayed until frost has lifted. Also, many golf courses have discounted rates in the winter.
— Skiing: Winter in North Carolina is the perfect time to hit the slopes in the our mountains. Skiing, whether downhill or cross country style, is a great cardiovascular workout. If you don’t have your own equipment, you can usually rent it at the resorts. For information on skiing in North Carolina, go to www.skisoutheast.com.
When moving your exercise routine to an outdoor venue, keep in mind a few tips to make sure you are safe and comfortable:
— Drink plenty of fluids to keep from getting dehydrated: Not soda or the variety made from barely and hops, but good old water. Make sure you drink 15 to 20 minutes before you begin your workout and every 15 minutes thereafter. Thirst is not the best indicator of your body’s need for fluids, so drink before you feel the need.
— Mid-day workouts are the best: Winter mornings and evenings are usually the coldest. Workout during the 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. timeframe to avoid extremes and finish before dark.
— Dress the part: Make sure that you dress in layers so you keep warm but don’t overheat. We still sweat during winter workouts, so find some clothing that wicks moisture away from the skin to avoid getting chilled. Under Armour and other companies make workout wear for all weather conditions.
— Avoid the extreme cold: If the weather dips into single digits, it is a good idea to convert to an indoor workout. Extremely cold air is hard on exercising lungs and can make a workout miserable.
— Exercising in the great outdoors, even in the winter, can help keep fitness fun. Just make sure to have the right equipment, training and know how to do it safely.
Kathy Hansen has over 20 years of experience in the fitness field and is totally bummed that she is working rather than golfing on this sunny 70-degree day. She can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com