Walking in the winter is great exercise! The air is crisper (you can see your breath as you hit a good walking pace) and you might get to see your neighborhood or park covered under a blanket of snow (who knew snow could be so cold). Don’t let colder weather keep you from walking outside, because winter walking can be fun if you prepare yourself. Warm up to winter walking with these simple tips and tricks.
Take it Easy
Make sure that your muscles are warmed up before going outside. Walk around your house first or do some stretches to get the blood flowing. Try not to do deep, static stretches while your muscles are still cold. This can lead to strains or injuries.
Longer strides will be more hazardous when there is ice and snow. Adjust your strides accordingly.You may have to walk a bit slower, but that’s ok!
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Even though you won’t be sweating like you do in the summer, it is still important to drink water while you walk. If you’re going on a short walk, take a drink of water before you head out.
Surprise – Avoid Cotton
What?!? Contrary to popular belief, cotton is not always the best for winter protection. Go for clothes that keep water, such as sweat, away from your skin. You won’t be as cold.
Dress in Layers
Layers provide insulation. Long underwear, sweatpants, a t-shirt and a turtleneck, for example, will keep you warm and are easy to take off as you heat up. Complete the outfit with a down-filled coat and you will be ready to walk for miles. If you do have to take off a layer, try removing an inner layer and keeping your outer windproof layer on.
Just the Essentials
Wearing the right shoes and socks are essential. Consider winter socks (they’re a bit thicker than regular socks) and hiking boots. When selecting hiking boots, look for a pair that is well-insulated and waterproof. They should also be lightweight, with a non-slip rubber tread and wide, low heels.
Hats, Gloves and Scarves, oh my!
Wear ‘em. A scarf or mask worn loosely over the nose will protect against the sting of icy cold when you breathe (you’ll also prevent your nose hairs from sticking together!).
Make Yourself Visible
With the shorter days, chances are good that you will be walking at dusk or in the dark. Reflective clothing or tape is a must so others can see you – especially drivers!
Be aware of ice or snow that could fall from things such as trees or awnings. Keep aware of your surroundings in general, as ice and snow make everything more treacherous.
Thin sheets of ice may appear as a wet spot or water on the pavement. Also known as black ice, this dangerous condition will often form in the mornings. Black ice often forms after snow and ice melt during the day and refreeze overnight. Try to walk slowly, and look for the shine coming off icy patches. Walking a familiar route can help you avoid dangerous areas as you’ll be more aware of where they may pop up.
When All Else Fails
Hit the gym and use a treadmill! No gym membership? No problem. Malls are made for walking and often have walking clubs that meet before the mall gets busy. Not only can you get your daily steps in but you can also check out the latest deals on your favorite items.
Above All – Track Your Progress
Track your progress! Use the Pacer Pedometer to track your daily activity and see your improvements. Research shows that people who monitor their progress stay on track. And participate in the Pacer community. There you will find supportive people who will help you ensure your daily steps are in the right direction.
If you haven’t downloaded the Pacer app yet, download Pacer for free (on mobile)! You can also check out our website (mobile or desktop) or follow our blog for more great walking and healthy lifestyle tips.