Since we do all of our resistance training indoors, most people who regularly exercise don’t have a problem getting in their normal resistance training workouts during the winter. The hard part is getting motivated to get out of your warm bed to go tackle an outdoor cardio workout in the cold. Lucky, here in California, we have relatively temperate weather and there is opportunity to workout mid-day when it’s warmer. If your anything like me though, getting your cardio workout in first thing in the morning is ideal so that it doesn’t end up getting cancelled for one reason or another. The key to happy early morning workouts in winter conditions is winter workout preparation by having proper gear to face the elements.
Cycling is perhaps the most difficult winter activity to maintain during the winter. Colder temeratures and/or rain combined with wind chill from moving at higher speeds can make cycling down right miserable if you don’t have proper gear. Extremeties like hands and feet are the most important to protect. For you hands, you should switch from a cut off finger glove to a full finger glove and try to find one that also blocks the wind. You may need to try a few brands of gloves to find one that fits and actually keeps your hands warm. I settled on Performance Bikes Windstopper which do a great job of blocking the wind and when it gets really cold I can wear an extra liner under the glove for added warmth. They make cycling booties for your feet that are covers for your cycling shoes that block the wind and keep your feet warm. These are extremely effective and if you are riding your bike in temperatures below fifty degrees I highly suggest buying a pair. Most major cycling brands also make thermal cycling pants and long sleeve jerseys or jackets for cold temperatures. Don’t forget to wear your cycling skull cap under your helmet because you lose most of your heat from your head. Winter riding skull caps will have that needed thickness for cold weather riding. I use arm and leg warmers with a standard lycra cycling short and jersey (with a tight protective shirt like underarmor underneath) for semi-cold temperature (above fifty degrees). Gear up right and you won’t finish your bike ride thawing your feet out in a hot shower.
Your body temperature raises so quickly when running so it’s one of the easiest winter cardiovascular activities to embark in. Add a long sleave shirt, beanie, wind breaker pants and running gloves for really cold temperatures and your good to go. I also buy trail running shoes for this time of year to keep my traction when the trails get a little wet and slippery. Trail running shoes have an aggressive tread to take on gnarly terrain. Here is a link to a picture of my recently purchased trail running shoes. I just got them yesterday and I can’t wait to get them dirty.
Outside of the shock of getting in and out of the pool when the air temerature is cold, provided you have a facility with a heated pool, swimming isn’t bad in the winter. At our outdoor facility we occasionally can’t swim due to lightning but in general, there is no reason to cut back on swimming during the winter. If you open water swim, water temperatures tend to drop in the winter and a wetsuit is highly recommended. If water temperatures drop into the fifties I wear a thermal swim cap since you lose most of your heat through your head. I do most of my swimming in a pool in the winter since ocean water temperatures can be down right miserable.
I find indoor cardio on machines in the gym down right boring. If you’re like me, gear up, be prepared and you can keep up your cardio this winter. Save cardio in the gym for stormy days that weather absolutely will not permit outdoor activity.