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8 Tips for Walking in Winter Weather 8 Tips for Walking in Winter Weather


Tips for Walking in Winter Weather

The colder weather and shorter days of winter can put a damper on your walking program, but don't give up! Although cold weather can be challenging, it can also be invigorating. Approach the challenges from a perspective of managing them instead of letting them defeat your efforts.

Dress for success.

Technology has come a long way with what used to be bulky, winter athletic wear. Silky thermals with ventilation panels, quick drying micro-fleece, lightweight high-tech materials that keep you warm but wick away moisture (Thermax, Thinsulate, Polypropylene) and water resistant shells, such as those made with GoreTex, all make it easy to dress for exercise in the cold.

Dress in layers that you can peel off as you warm up if needed. The following three layers are usually sufficient: 1) a base layer to draw moisture away from skin, 2) a middle layer to provide warmth, and 3) an outer layer to protect against wind and rain. Wear gloves to prevent frostbite on fingertips, and wear a hat to avoid losing body heat through your head.

Don’t ignore the sun.

Don’t skimp on sun protection just because it’s cloudy and cold. Continue to apply sunscreen with at least 15 SPF, wear a lip balm with sunscreen, wear a hat to protect your head, and consider sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare of a bright winter’s day.

Stay hydrated.

You may not sweat as much during winter workouts as you do on hot, humid days, but winter exercise still causes dehydration. Drink fluids regularly to stay hydrated and to maintain your exercise performance. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that adults aim to drink around 0.4 to 0.8 liters of fluid per hour during exercise.

Stay safe at all hours.

The shorter winter days make it more difficult to walk during daylight. If you have to walk in the early morning or evening, make sure that your gear is equipped with reflective materials. Some workout clothing has reflective piping, but adhering reflective tape to your outerwear is an inexpensive alternative. Carry your cell phone and a form of identification. Walk with others whenever possible. Always let someone know when and where you are going, and how long you will be gone.

Be aware of road conditions.

The worst part of winter walking is often the condition of your walking path. Keep your eyes on the road to watch for slippery icy patches. If you need new walking shoes, now is the time to get them. A newer pair will provide better traction.

Know the danger signs.

In addition to the danger of falls from icy conditions, frostbite is another risk of exercising in cold weather. Frostbite starts as frostnip where the skin turns bright red, is very cold, and may tingle. Small exposed areas such as fingers, toes, ears and the nose are the most susceptible. Ignoring these symptoms can lead to superficial frostbite where the skin turns white and damage can begin to occur. Cover all exposed skin and take care to get inside if frostbite symptoms begin.

Assess your indoor options.

When it’s simply too cold, look for indoor walking options in your community. Shopping malls often open early to allow walkers to exercise. The perimeters of supermarkets also offer a sufficient walking area. If a treadmill is your only option, plan your workout during your favorite television show, and use interval training with speed and inclines to make the session less monotonous. Walking videos are a great option for at-home workouts.

Consider other activities.

While you may love walking, winter can provide the perfect opportunity to try something new. Now you can take advantage of the muscle conditioning class at the gym, try indoor cycling, or sign up for dance lessons.

How to Find Your Target Heart Rate How to Find Your Target Heart Rate


calculate maximal heart rate

Your target heart rate is a range that predicts how hard you work during exercise. Tracking your heart rate helps you find a challenging exercise intensity while also helping you to avoid pushing beyond a safe level.

Target heart rate zones are based on a percentage of the fastest rate that your heart can beat per minute. This is known as the maximal heart rate and can be calculated using the following formula:

maximal beats per minute (bpm) = 206.9 - (age in years x 0.67) *

Once you know your maximal heart rate, you can find your target heart rate range for exercise. For moderate-intensity exercise, aim for a heart rate that is 50 - 70% of your maximal heart rate. For vigorous exercise, aim for 70 - 85% of your maximal heart rate.

Below is an example equation for a 40 year old person exercising at moderate intensity.

206.9 - (40 x 0.67) = 180 bpm maximal heart rate

180 x 0.50 = 90 bpm (at 50% maximal heart rate)

180 x 0.70 = 126 bpm (at 70% maximal heart rate)

To exercise at a moderate intensity, this person should keep her heart rate between 90 and 126 bpm throughout the workout.

Exercise intensity and target heart rate vary from person to person. Beginners should exercise at the lower end of their target heart rate range and increase intensity slowly as the body becomes more fit. Aim for an intensity that meets your goals for calorie burning, challenges your current fitness state, and is safe and tolerable. The best intensity is one that is challenging enough to benefit your heart, lungs, muscles and bones, while not being so intense that you risk injury.

*Another popular equation is (220 - age in years), but the American College of Sports Medicine recommends this more accurate equation.

Top 3 Chest Exercises Top 3 Chest Exercises


top 3 chest exercises

The American Council on Exercise recently sponsored a study that identified which exercises most effectively work the large chest muscle known as the pectoralis major (or pecs). Incorporate these moves into your upper body workouts to maximize your exercise time.

Barbell Bench Press: This classic gym exercise activated the chest muscles the most out of the nine exercises that were tested. If you are new to strength training, don’t let this weight room exercise scare you. Beginners can start by using only the bar for weight until you get comfortable with proper form. Then you can begin to add 5-to-10 lb plates on each side as you get stronger.

Pec Deck Machine: The pec deck came in a close second to the bench press. While this is a popular machine found in most gyms, experts recommend practicing caution when using the pec deck. Many use bad form and lift too much weight, which can injure the shoulder joint. If you plan to use it, ask a trainer to help you set it up safely.

Bent-forward Cable Crossover: Not far behind the pec deck, the cable crossover is the third most effective chest exercise. Proper position and use of the cables can take a while to get used to. Start with a small amount of weight and ask a trainer to check your form as you perform this exercise.

These three exercises are very close in their level of muscle activation; therefore, experts reported that they can be used interchangeably to train the chest muscles. Six additional exercises were tested, but they were much less effective at working the pecs than the top three.

What exercise was the least effective? Standard push-ups. This doesn’t mean that you should stop doing them, but you will need to do almost twice as many push-ups to get the same result as you will from the top three exercises.

Gift Ideas for 7 Types of Fitness Lovers Gift Ideas for 7 Types of Fitness Lovers


Gift Ideas for 7 Types of Fitness Lovers

Giving a gift that promotes a healthy lifestyle is a great way to celebrate the holiday season. Here are gift ideas for 7 types of fitness enthusiasts in your life!

The Newbie

This is the person who is just beginning to exercise. Everything is new and fresh, and they are still trying to find which activities they like best.

One week trials. Give this person the gift of variety. Put together a package of one week trials for new activities. Consider the beginner yoga class, Zumba or salsa dancing. This gift will help your loved one discover a new activity that will keep her exercising long term.

Beginner courses. The gift doesn’t have to be actual exercise. You can focus more on education. Many gyms and recreation centers offer workshops on how to strength train or on starting a running program. Get an idea of what he might like to learn and seek out an educational course to match it.

The Advocate

The advocate is the person who loves activity, and strives to support others. They raise money through training and racing and help with organizations that promote health.

Donate to the cause. Advocates often have fundraising campaigns established as they train for the next event. Donate the money you would spend on a gift to the fundraiser. Or select an organization that is close to her heart and donate in her honor.

Customized shirts or signs for upcoming races. Have shirts and signs printed with names, sayings, and organizations that relate to the advocate. Give these as a gift with a promise that you will be on the course wearing the shirts and holding the signs for support and to garner attention for the cause.

The Advanced

This is the person who has been there and done that when it comes to exercise, and they have the fitness to prove it.

A gift for the next level. Has this person’s passion for fitness turned into plans for a new job or hobby? If a fitness certification is being considered, study materials or exam registration fees can be a great gift idea.

Personal training sessions. Buy a personal training package with the toughest trainer you know. Advanced exercisers are always up for a new challenge!

The Friend Who Needs Convincing

This is the person that is interested in exercise, but hasn’t gotten started. They need direction and a little boost of motivation to take the first step.

Motivating reading materials. Magazines and books with tips, sample exercises, and information on total wellness are a good place to start. A subscription is a simple gift that can have this person looking forward to learning more as they get started.

Get a together gift. Get a gift that allows you to exercise together. Outdoor boot camp sessions, weekend yoga retreats, or beginner rock wall climbing lessons are all things that will get you moving.

The Yoga-lover

This is the person who loves a quiet, peaceful workout, but is driven and strives for balance in mental and physical health.

Passes to new studios. Every yoga student has her favorite type of practice and many studios cater to just one or two types. Check out other studios in the area and consider a gift pass to something this person hasn’t tried such as hot yoga or anti-gravity yoga.

Weekend workshops. Many yoga studios offer weekend workshops that educate on principles related to yoga. This can include mindfulness workshops, meditation retreats, and classes for stress reduction.

The Runner or Cyclist

The avid runner or cyclist will be looking for a challenge. They love fitness, but they prefer that all gifts relate to their favorite activity.

Laboratory analysis. Many universities and clinics have exercise science labs that offer sport-specific testing to the public. For a fee, researchers and clinicians will analyze factors such as gate, form, and fitness level which can help the exerciser improve performance.

Race registration. Lengthier, more challenging run and bike events can be expensive. If you know this person is hoping to compete, a gift to help out with the race registration may be a huge hit.

The Gym-rat

Some people hate the gym, but these folks live for it. Cardio machines, classes, free weights - these are the people who don’t mind exercising indoors.

Gym perks. Check out additional features offered by the gym. Consider a gift certificate for a massage, nutritional consultation, or fitness testing. If you know childcare is a barrier to regular workouts, consider a gift certificate that will help cover the cost. This can be childcare offered by the gym, or it might be a class (such as martial arts or swimming) that will keep the kids busy while mom exercises.

Functional fitness products. There are all types of fun products on the market that are designed to support the gym-goers lifestyle. Check out new gym bags, quick-drying towels for the locker rooms, and beauty products designed for active lifestyles. Have fun pulling this one together and fill a new gym bag with unique items.

4 Reasons to Keep Exercising During the Holidays4 Reasons to Keep Exercising During the Holidays


winter exercise

During the holidays, it’s tempting to throw your workouts by the wayside with the promise to start again after the New Year. Research shows that when regular exercise stops, de-training occurs within a few weeks. It's better to shift to maintenance workouts than to stop altogether and lose what you've worked so hard to gain. Even if you need to reduce the time of each session or cut back one workout a week, maintaining the momentum of your regular exercise routine is much easier than stopping and trying to re-establish it again later.

Exercise can also be a valuable tool to get you through the challenges of the holiday season. Here are 4 reasons why you should give yourself the gift of regular exercise.

Holiday Weight Gain

The holidays are a high-risk time for gaining weight. Exercise can combat this risk by burning calories, and by maintaining muscle mass which sustains metabolic rate.

Holiday Stress

Shopping, increased food preparation, frequent visitors, and managing finances all lead to increased stress. Exercise promotes the release of hormones that improve mood and reduce feelings of anxiety. See 4 Ways Exercise Reduces Stress and Improves Mood.

Seasonal Depression

As we approach the winter solstice, the season chips away at our daylight hours. For many people, this can lead to varying degrees of seasonal depression. Exercise can reduce symptoms of depression and elevate mood. Performing an outdoor workout during the daylight hours provides additional benefits by increasing sunlight exposure.

Exercise Provides Structure

One of the main culprits associated with stress, depression, and weight gain is a reduction in structure within daily routines. Maintaining your exercise schedule provides structure to your day. The routine will help you stay on track with food intake, aid in maintenance of sleep schedules, and provide a framework so you can prioritize the demands of the holiday season.

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