As we move into the winter months, cold weather and less daylight may affect your COVID outdoor workout routine.
A sports medicine expert at Baylor College of Medicine offers tips on staying safe while being active both indoors and outdoors.
“It’s important to find ways to stay active right now, but be sure to do so safely,” said Dr. Theodore Shybut, associate professor in the Joseph Barnhart Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Baylor. “A lot of people have gained the dreaded ‘COVID 19’ and with the holidays right around the corner, I encourage everyone to make a plan to stay active and to make it fun.”
Cold weather workouts. There are many considerations to make when exercising outdoors in cold weather, including wearing layers and even remembering to wear sunscreen. Shybut said that oftentimes during colder months, athletes anticipate sweating less and do not hydrate as well as they would in warmer months, which can result in dehydration and cramping. He says to be sure to hydrate properly before any workouts.
At-home workouts. If you are moving toward at-home workouts this winter, it’s important to introduce new workouts properly to avoid injury. Shybut encourages doing some research online and finding virtual classes for beginners. Don’t forget that even though you are at home, you still need to warm up properly to prevent injuries – this includes doing a dynamic warmup.
DIY races. Since many annual races are canceled because of COVID or are being held in a virtual format, people are running on their own to support various causes. Because you are not in a formal race setting where organizers are taking safety precautions for all runners, it’s important to take some of those precautions on your own, whether it’s a 5K, 10K or a marathon. This includes going on a familiar course. Shybut suggests driving the course and understanding the traffic patterns. When determining your course, he said to seek out softer surfaces, such as crushed rock or gravel, because these lower-impact surfaces can help prevent injury.
He also suggests making sure that somebody knows where you are going and keeping your phone with you during your run. Hydrate ahead of the run or enlist friends who can meet you at set locations along your route so you can hydrate with water or a sports drink.
• If you decide to start going to gyms as they reopen, try to go first thing in the morning when all of the equipment is clean. Make sure that your gym is enforcing mask and hygiene policies and consider switching gyms if you have any doubts. • Be sure that you have the right shoes for your workout and consider buying a new pair if your shoes are worn out. If you know your shoe size and style preference, buying them online is an option, but those starting new workout routines may want to visit a specialty shoe store to find just the right shoe. • Consider splitting up your workout routine during the day. Shybut suggests two walks during the day or doing short body weight workouts between meetings. Use the time from canceled meetings to do something active as well. He encourages staying active and moving around during your workday even if you are working from home. • Find ways to make physical activity fun for the whole family, like a friendly competition between family or friends where you can virtually track your workouts.