How to

13 January 2017

Nourishing the Body for Winter Workouts

Keeping on top of something is much easier than starting up anew. Going to class week after week is a breeze. Signing up for a new class, on the other hand, can be a trying task even for the most dedicated as it requires conscious effort. That’s not to say that those in the midst of maintenance, as with regular exercisers, get off without trying. In fact, grinding through a workout plan week after week invokes a tedium and weariness all of its own. However, people who are on board the exercise train are usually unwilling to get off for any reason. It becomes a healthy addiction, a source of confidence and happiness. Exercising is a form of meditation.

Nothing can stop the dedicated gym-goer from chasing gains, not even ruddy-cheeked, bright-eyed winter. Day after day, through chilly mornings and early night, you measure your mile-time. You lug a gym bag around at all times in case an opportunity arises.  Kudos to you for staying strong in the face unwelcoming weather. Hopefully, guru of exercise and well-being, you remember to correctly fuel your body. By ensuring that the body is well-prepared for exertion in cold weather, you decrease the chance of any health complications and enable optimal performance.

Dehydration Station

In the midst of cold-weather, sweat is the furthest thing from most people’s minds. If you do happen to sweat (coat on too long before going outdoors, perhaps), it quickly evaporates in the cold. No perspiration is a good thing, guaranteeing an odour-free and comfortable day, but without a physical reminder that our bodies are losing water proper hydration can be neglected. For adults, up to 60% of body weight is made up of water and losing even a small percentage of overall water will have negative consequences, especially when engaging in physical activity.

Dan Trink, an accomplished personal trainer and published physical fitness and health writer, told Greatist: “As critical as hydration is for regular, day-to-day activities, it is even more important when exercising to optimize athletic performance and body composition. As little as a two percent loss in hydration will affect performance in the weight room, so you want to make sure that you hydrate before and during your session.”

To preserve heat, blood vessels constrict, slowing the flow of blood away from the core of the body. Along with this natural reaction to cold comes a diminished thirst response, up to 40%. Even while experiencing dehydration, the body is slow to send signals to the brain in wintertime. Plenty of ordinary things dehydrate the body in winter, breathing outside is one example. The body must humidify the air before it enters the lungs, expending moisture to do so. Staying on top of hydration keeps blood from thickening, putting less strain on your heart.

Combat Dehydration

Keeping dehydration at bay is simple enough:
  • Drink water often. From the moment you awaken, drink water. Drink more than you think you need, and keep drinking throughout the day. Carry a reusable water bottle (preferably a metal one) to fill up throughout the day, making sure to drink before, during and after workouts.
  • Eat water-loaded produce. Karen Owoc, human performance specialist and professional member of the American College of Sports Medicine and the International Society of Sports Nurtition, tells CNN to favour watermelon, lettuce, apples and oranges all of which are made up of 80% water.
  • Choose clothing carefully. When exercising outdoors, wear several layers of light-weight clothing. For the base layer, that against the skin, be sure to wear something made of wool, synthetic or natural fibres. Any of these materials will wick away sweat, keeping you from going cold in the middle of a workout. Loose-fitting clothing will allow for better air circulation.
  • Fuel the body properly. Once you’ve powered through an intense weight-lifting session, it’s imperative that you get the proper nutrients. Have soup, stew or chili, all of which are chock-full of veggies, protein, and a good dose of sodium.  

Jacqui Litvan

Jacqui Litvan, wielding a bachelor's degree in English, strives to create a world of fantasy amidst the ever-changing landscape of military life. Attempting to become a writer, she fuels herself with coffee (working as a barista) and music (spending free time as a raver).