Outdoors sport in winter and, generally speaking, exercise during this season should be regarded more trustfully by sedentary people as well as by gym-addicts. Advantages such as reinforcing, maintaining and increasing health, characterizing outdoors exercise, do not cease during winter; on the contrary, they can acquire new values.
If winter sports amateurs do not need any pleading, there is a big mass of people who would like to exercise without skis, skates or sleighs. The common reflex is to assault the fitness, body building, aerobics, tae-bo etc. studios. Of course, in this period, force training largely depends on gyms – in the other seasons the push-ups, pull up, squat are much more easily practiced outdoors.
Meanwhile, endurance (aerobic) exercise, which should always accompany anaerobic training, can and should be done outdoors even during the cold season. Fast walking, running and cycling are most recommended. In the case of people who haven’t trained in winter but are used to practicing exercises such as these in other periods of the year, we must stress that dosage of effort should be done more prudently than in the warmer seasons.
The superior as well as the inferior parts of the respiratory apparatus aren’t used to the cold air flow; thus, they need to be trained step by step in order to avoid laryngitis, trachaeitis, bronchitis etc. As pulmonary ventilation increases during aerobic effort, the air flow cannot warm up sufficiently while passing through the respiratory apparatus – thus alternating lower effort periods or even taking breaks is recommended – in order to allow warming up again.
When the body has been trained for winter conditions, the timing of a usual effort session can get close to the one habitual in warmer seasons – a bit reduced. Thus for rapid walking it can extend to an hour, an hour and a half; for running, to 30-45 minutes.
The sports gear is a most important aspect: it must assure thermal protection without overheating. Up-to-date research recommends using three clothing layers which create two successive air layers.
For the first fabric layer, touching the skin, cotton (most recommended in summer) must be avoided. Here synthetic fabrics such as Goretex, Polarteck and Lycra are used – they do not retain perspiration and do not transform themselves into cold wet compresses for the chest and back.
For the second layer, warmer materials – such as wool – can be used; the fabric for the last layer has to be water and windproof.
One must give special attention to protecting the head, neck, hands and feet. Especially the head must be covered with a hat made of the same types of fabric as the first layer: scientific studies have proved that the skull allows the greatest heat loss. For protecting the neck, it is good to wear polo necks or scarves made of the same material as the clothing’s last layer. Leather gloves must be avoided: they forbid eliminating the perspiration – as wearing several pairs of cotton socks does, too.
Last but not least, we must mention the body’s hydrating level: cold as well as heat tend to make the sportsman dehydrate.
If these recommendations are respected, we can train and enjoy exercise also during the cold season.