Top 10 Tips for Winter Walking
Hibernating is for bears, not walkers. Walking in the winter can be a safe and enjoyable experience if you dress correctly and are prepared for the weather. There are also some fantastic benefits to walking in the winter. The crisp cold air can clear your mind and reduce stress. Trudging through snow or walking into the wind takes more energy, which can be helpful for weight loss. Even if you have to walk slower because of the weather, you may be burning more calories.
- Wear your pedometer from morning till night so you collect as many indoor and outdoor steps as possible.
- Get your steps in the first half of the day. Waiting until later may make it more difficult to reach your step goal. A brisk walk in the morning or at lunch time is ideal. Select routes sheltered from the wind and elements where possible. Getting outside during daylight hours also increases levels of serotonin, a hormone that helps calm cravings.
- Dress warmly and feel comfortable. Wearing the right layers and clothing will make your walking experience more enjoyable. In cold weather, 20 to 60 percent of heat is lost through an uncovered head so wear a hat when the temperature drops. Your fingers, nose and chin get cold quickly, so protect them with gloves and a scarf. Dress in layers to keep your body warm and dry. High-tech synthetic fabrics make a big difference in comfort so they’re worth the investment. You’ll be much happier and more energized if you’re warm and dry instead of sweaty and chilled. On windy days start your walk into the wind so you will finish with it at your back. This way, perspiration will not cool your skin and chill your body.
- Wear the right footwear for the right time of year. Wear warm, water resistant boots. You may want to try ice grips or traction devices on your boots. Select routes that are cleared of snow or ice or do not have standing puddles or mud slicks.
- Allow at least 10 minutes to warm up. When its cold, your heart and muscles need more time to get ready.
- Move your feet slightly apart as you walk. This will give you better support and balance. If the street is really slippery, bend your knees a little bit. You may feel that you look funny, but it’s worth it! When going down an incline, consider turning sideways. Do NOT cross one foot over the other, as you will have no balance while your feet are crossed. If the ground is steep, bend your knees.
- Take your workout indoors if there’s risk of frostbite (temperatures around -20 degrees F, including any wind chill) or if it’s too icy, or if you’d encounter dangerous traffic. Some indoor options include:
- Mall Walking: Your local mall most likely has a mall walking program. Malls are generally open before stores open and can provide a great way to get in those steps. Also a great way to meet up with fellow walkers.
- Indoor Track/Gym. Check with your local schools, community colleges and community centers to see if they have open hours for walkers. Some indoor skating rinks allow walking around the top outside row of bleachers.
- Treadmill Walking: Treadmills and ellipticals are often an ideal way to get add steps to your day.
- Creative Walking at Work and Home: See if your workplace has an indoor walking route or be creative and take the stairs, walk during conference calls, or go to tell a co-worker something instead of sending an email. A recent study found that stepping in place during commercials burned an average 148 calories and resulted in an average 2,111 steps in about 25 minutes.
- Stay Hydrated. You need water in winter as much as in summer. Bring water along to stay hydrated.
9. Share the cold. Walking with a friend, co-worker or even your dog provides company and mental stimulation. You won’t even notice the cold as you zip along on your winter walk.
10. Reward yourself. Take a long, warm bath to take away the chill and relax your muscles. Or savor a warm mug full of hot cocoa, hot apple cider or hot beverage of your choice. And be sure to keep track of all those steps. You earned them so make sure they are counted.
This is a guest post by Lisa Rousseau. Lisa is the Co-founder and VP of Member Engagement at Walkingspree (a technology based physical activity program). She is responsible for serving clients, including Blue Cross Blue Cross Blue Shield of MI and Blue Care Network, from implementation to ongoing monthly needs to enhance the effectiveness of their custom wellness solution.
Lisa also manages the member engagement of the Walkingspree program. Prior to Walkingspree, Lisa worked in online business and print and web publishing for 12 years, (servicing healthcare and pharmaceutical clients). She’s also involved with community-oriented organizations that promote family health and wellness.
Photo Credit: 05com