7 steps to a great winter walk

There’s nothing I love more than a long walk on a fall day. It’s a great way to enjoy the city while getting a light workout. But once the mercury drops, I turn into a wuss (my idea of a winter walk tends to be a trek through the mall).

It’s time to embrace the cold weather that comes with living in Canada. (Or, at least laugh in its face.) Here are some tips on staying safe and warm on a winter walk.

Frosty Footpath - winter snow

Hello, winter! Trekking through this footpath is a definite workout (photo: blmiers2).

1. Warm up indoors.
Do a little running on the spot or a few sprints up and down the stairs to get some blood to your muscles before braving the cold.

2. Dress in layers.
This way you can add or remove clothing as you enjoy your winter walk.
• Start with a moisture-wicking top (such as Nike Dri-Fit) that draws sweat away from your body as your base layer (these are a fave of mine for any workout)
• Top with a fleece or wool sweater or jacket for insulation
• And finish with a waterproof outer layer. If you’re walking in the day, wear dark clothing to help absorb the sunlight. But if you’re walking in the evening…

3. Wear reflective gear.
It gets darker earlier this time of year, making it more difficult for drivers to see you. Think about bringing a flashlight with you, as well, to help guide your way.

4. Wear good-traction shoes.
It can be slippery out there, but a good pair of hiking books should give you good tread for your workout. Or consider investing in a pair of Yaktrax or other shoe-traction add-ons.

5. Slap on some sunscreen.
Eighty percent of UV rays reflect off of snow, making it as easy to get burned on a winter walk as on a summer one. Apply some sunscreen-containing lip balm as well.

6. Protect your extremities.
Complete your ensemble with gloves (layer a thick pair on top of a thin pair), a toque and a scarf to protect against frostbite.

7. Bring water with you.
Hard to believe, but you will sweat walking in the cold. (Hiking through the snow can be a workout!) Keep your body hydrated with regular swigs on your walk (and before you go and after you get back, too).

Even if you take all of these precautions, sometimes it’s simply safer to stay in. The Mayo Clinic suggests that when the temperature drops below 0 F (–17.8 C) or the wind chill is extreme, you should consider an indoor activity instead.

Do you enjoy taking a brisk winter walk? What do you do to stay warm? What’s your favourite winter workout activity?

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