The Fitness Diaries: How to get warm after a chilly, winter workout

It’s a funny time of year, isn’t it? The initial enthusiasm for a healthy 2020 has started to wear off, but spring still feels a little too distant to provide much motivation. Yet despite the uninspiring weather, my number one tip for keeping your fitness goals on track this year is to head outside.

Yup. Movement in general, and especially in the open air, does wonders for your mental health, which in turn helps you want to continue exercising. I’ve written before about the benefits of exercising outdoors (which are many and varied), but I can almost hear you grumbling ‘but it’s cold / dark / wet’. I can understand why you might be disinclined to take up an outdoor exercise habit in February.

Truth is, many people actually prefer outdoor exercise at this time of year. There are fewer biting insects to contend with, you’re

not worried about sunburn, you don’t overheat nor have that energy slump often associated with hot weather. That being said, there is nothing worse than that feeling of being cold to the bones, and as someone who spends a lot of time outdoors year round, I know that feeling all too well!

Amber Brammah, of Lovefit (25075100)
Amber Brammah, of Lovefit (25075100)

I was chatting with some of my WOW clients (Women’s Outdoor Workouts) recently, on a crisp wintry evening. Despite the chill in the air, we all agreed how warming a good workout can be! Then somebody piped up: “But I always get cold about an hour after class finishes.” And then several mutterings of agreement followed.

It’s true. You might feel plenty warm once your workout is in full swing, but it’s easy to cool down quickly and feel cold later. The good news is that you can avoid the post-workout chill by following these simple steps:

1 Dress in layers

Not only does this mean you can peel off as you warm-up, but it means you can stick layers back on at the end. This is KEY! Even if you’re still feeling warm, as soon as you stop exercising, stick another layer back on while you stretch and another layer once you are done.

2 Keep IT Moving!

After you’ve worked out, do not stand around in the cold chatting to your workout buddies, nice as it is. Get yourself home pronto.

3 Once home, get out of your workout kit immediately

Chances are your clothes will be damp, either from sweat, drizzle or both. This is no good for your core body temperature, even if you think you’re all warm and toasty back in your central heating. If you aren’t going straight home, try to have a change of warm, dry clothes on hand. Especially socks.

4 Jump into a warm shower or – better still – a bath

I know this isn’t always possible (so at the very least, see point 3 and get out of your gym kit into fresh, dry clothes), but try to make it a priority. A long soak in the bath will warm you right up and soothe your muscles post-workout. Throw in some Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) for an added bonus. They help your muscles relax and prevent anything seizing up.

5 Get a hot drink down your throat

Hydration after a workout is crucial, so ideally hot water with lemon, or a herbal tea. But quite honestly, anything warming will do the trick so get the kettle on as soon as you walk through the door.

I hope that’s helpful and encourages you to keep moving. Go for walk, a run, visit a trim trail, or join an outdoor exercise session like the ones I run. Don’t wait for spring. Stay warm!

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