Walking is the absolute best form of exercise for many people. It's the perfect exercise for beginners, many seniors, those who need to improve their cardiovascular health, those who need to begin losing weight, and more. Outdoor walking can be even better for your health than indoor walking, because you get the added benefits of fresh air, sunshine, and a variety of slopes for a natural variance in the intensity of your workout. But walking during the winter months can be more difficult for a number of reasons. Here are a few ways to get ready for invigorating winter walks.
Winter walking requires more balance
Depending on where you live, walking in the winter could involve navigating over some slippery surfaces from time to time. Even as snow melts and the sidewalks clear, there can still be icy patches at the curbs and such. You may need better balance to get past the obstacles in your way.
To get outdoors and enjoy your walk all winter long, start working to improve your balance now. You can try many different exercises to improve your balance, but some of the best include just standing on one foot for gradually extended periods of time. Add weights in your hands to further strengthen your core and improve your balance. Try other stretches, or even some yoga to increase your balance and flexibility.
Winter walking requires better breathing
I have asthma, so exercising in the cold, outdoor air in the winter can be difficult at times. I've found, though, that by building my stamina before winter arrives, my lungs are better able to handle the cold than they would be otherwise. You can try building your stamina by walking regularly on a treadmill, and perhaps adding some interval training where you push yourself harder for short periods of time, and then slow your pace back down in between.
If you suffer from a heart condition, asthma, COPD or other breathing difficulties, talk to your doctor before beginning a winter walking routine. You may need to carry a rescue inhaler, just in case, or walk with a buddy.
Winter walking requires hydration
In the cool weather, you may not think you need as much water as you do during summer walks. While it is true that you are probably not sweating as much as you would in the summer heat, you still require plenty of hydration during the winter months. Remember, if your mouth is dry and you are experiencing thirst, your body is already in need of water.
Water at room temperature may be easier to drink than icy cold water during your winter walks. I have found that room temperature water even helps me to breathe better when I stop and drink during a chilly walk or jog. If you find it hard to stay hydrated because your water is too cold, try a room temperature bottle and see if that works better for you, too.
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Tavia worked as a naturalist and recreation specialist at an Oklahoma lake during her college years. She enjoys using what she learned as an outdoor educator in her work with children today.