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Runners: Don't Be Afraid Of Winter Chill


After a holiday season of eating and eating and eating, many of us are packing gyms, trying to get back in shape for the New Year.

Your exercising options in the winter might seem bleak. Gyms can be crowded and, if I can editorialize a bit, running on a treadmill is boring.

The good news is running outside in cold winter months can be a great alternative.

“I think it’s wonderful to be out of doors in the winter," said Sarah Thompson, a Health and Wellness Lecturer at Binghamton University. She's also a runner. "You just need to practice precaution and make sure that you’re warm."

I know what you’re thinking. Running outside sounds awful. There’s wind, there's snow, everything is cold, but I promise there are ways to make it work.

For example, Thompson said it starts with what you wear. You want clothes that will wick away any sweat. If your sweat hangs around, it can chill your body. You want to wear something that keeps a warm pocket of air between you and the outside.

"Those types of spandex, wicking fabrics, as well as insulating fabrics are really appropriate,” Thompson said.

It’s also more important warm up your muscles. Cold weather restricts blood flow. “Taking five to ten minutes and just jogging in place, doing some jumping jacks, going up stairs if you have access to those indoors,” Thompson added.

You should stay loose after the run, too. That means rolling shoulders, opening your hips, lunging. Also, loosening the ankle area. Which, I admit, I’m not consistent with.

Thompson said that’s not good.

"Just because you can end up with a lot of foot problems if you don’t do proper rehabilitation exercises after running," she said. "Rolling out, stretching after running. A little TLC, you gotta take care of that because you want to keep running."

One more thing, Thompson said it’s more of a shock to the body when you go from warm temperatures to cold like in the fall, than from cold to warm, like in the spring. The heart has to work more which can increase the chance of a heart attack. "But if you’re taking your time, warming up indoors and maybe going out a couple minutes at a time, add a couple minutes each day, you really can get a lot done in the winter months," she said. 

"And by the time March rolls around, you’ll be ready to go.”