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3 of the Best Workouts to Do When It’s Freezing (and How to Prepare for Them)

Fall’s impending temperature drop is good news for lovers of leather jackets, pumpkin spice lattes, and scary movies, but what about those who enjoy exercising outdoors? We’ll sadly be bidding adieu to those wonderful evening jogs, pool swims, and beach sports, but save your tears for another day — or at least that’s the recommendation from New York City-based certified personal trainer Dominick Mangine.

“Working out in the fall and winter is a great change of pace,” he says. “Not only do you sweat less, but these activities also come with a slew of proven health benefits that you won’t find during the summer.”

RELATED: The Benefits of Working Out in Cold Weather

There are three primary (and very familiar) exercises that Mangine suggests for cold weather days, but they don’t come without proper preparation in the form of warm-ups and attire. Check out his top picks below, as well as his expert advice on how to tackle the change in seasons with gusto.

1. Traditional Cardiovascular Activities

A run, jog, or brisk walk may not sound like novel ideas, but the act of elevating your heart rate in cooler temperatures is actually more beneficial than in summer months.

“Studies have shown that cold weather forces your body to work harder during training, especially if the workout puts pressure on your cardiovascular system,” says Mangine. “The heart works overtime as it pumps blood to the entire body, which ultimately keeps it in good shape.”

“Cold weather also has the ability to burn even more calories, making something as simple as a jog or long walk even more beneficial,” he adds.

But don’t just throw on a pair of sneakers and hit the pavement. “Allow yourself at least 5 to 10 minutes of light aerobic exercise to warm you up and loosen your muscles,” advises Mangine. “And make sure you don’t rush this warm-up if you feel like you’re running low on time. This is an imperative first step with cold weather fitness because you generate heat through movement and don’t want your ligaments, tendons, or joints to feel stiff.”

Dynamic exercises and stretching (those that activate muscles and joints through range of motion) are a fantastic way to get the blood flowing and help you adjust to your surroundings.

“I typically get in some body weight movements like push-ups, sit-ups, and squatting in place, but walking, marching, jumping jacks, and cycling are great ways to warm up your body,” he says.

2. Outdoor Sports (with a Twist)

Most people obviously think of skiing and snowboarding when it comes to cold-weather sports, but they’re not taking full advantage of their potential.

“These activities highly increase cardiovascular activity and burn a tremendous amount of calories,” says Mangine. “But you can take them one step further by ditching the ski lift and walking up slopes. Little decisions like these to forego major conveniences will provide you with even more exercise, especially when you have to trudge through something like snow — a difficult, but very heart-healthy activity.”

“I also recommend more uncommon activities like snowshoeing, which will give you the thrill of hiking, but in gear that is cold-weather appropriate and also a bit more challenging because it’s so unfamiliar.”

Other outdoor ideas include ice skating, sledding, snow tubing, and even snow kayaking, but always be sure to start any activity with the aforementioned dynamic exercises to prevent injury.

3. Yoga

“Yoga is a good outdoor option, because it not only increases your heart rate and improves circulation, but it also encourages mobility and helps to build strength,” says Mangine, who also claims that the popular activity makes for a great pre-workout warm-up. “The focus on the breath regulates body temperature and can be used as a tool to build heat from within and physically warm anyone up.”

To support this claim, cold studio Brrrn co-founder Johnny Adamic explained to Yoga Journal in 2018 that “in ambient or hot environments, your perceived rate of exertion is higher.”

“This means your body thinks it’s working harder than it actually is, while in cooler temperatures anywhere from 40-64°F — your perceived rate of exertion is lower, which means you can work out harder and sustain your maximal best performance for longer,” he added.

That being said, there is no concrete evidence to suggest that doing yoga, specifically, in colder weather will ultimately yield more health benefits than its room temperature or hot counterparts.

“You still get benefits from the poses, no matter where or how you practice,” says Mangine. “It is up to each individual and his or her preferences.”

How to Dress for Cold Weather Exercises

Working out in cold weather may feel invigorating, but prolonged exposure to low temperatures and elements like snow, ice, and wind can actually be quite dangerous for your skin. You’ll want to take every preventative measure to avoid very real threats like frostbite and hypothermia and proper apparel is the first place to start.

“I prefer something that is form-fitting because it’s going to keep me insulated and help keep my core temperature warm,” shares Mangine. “For the upper body, typically anything DRI-fit will do the job to not only keep your body temperature regulated, but protected from moisture. It will also keep you dry if and when you sweat.”

“Always opt for comfortable, breathable, and functional items. And lightweight layers are always a good thing, knowing that you’ll most likely need to shed and carry them along the way,” he says.

Depending on the temperature, Mangine is also a huge advocate of gloves and hats, but says his wintertime staple is a classic hoodie. “I start with it for my warm-up and then easily wrap it around my waist for the exercise itself.”

Whether you’re getting fitted for snowshoes or going on a simple jog, working out in cold weather does not have to feel like a death sentence. In fact, it may very well lead to health benefits that you wouldn’t experience in desirable warmer weather.

Kiss those winter blues goodbye and relish the heart-healthy, calorie-burning, immunity-boosting powers of sweating it out in lower digits. You’ll certainly be glad you did.

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