|It's snow fun when it's cold!|
Soon the 2010 Winter Olympics will be dominating the television stations, and Canadians will be glued to the screen until March in support their Olympic athletes. As fun it may be to watch Olympics in HD, don’t let the cold weather keep you indoors this winter. As long as you have the proper gear, you can still have fun staying fit outdoors.
When it comes to “bundling up” for winter activities, wearing a bulky parka, three pairs of cotton socks, and four shirts does not necessarily make you warmer. Less is often more because your clothes need to be comfortable and versatile enough to allow for a full range of movements. Here are some important things to remember:
The first layer is key. This layer should keep moisture and sweat away from your skin, which in turn will keep you warm. Avoid using cotton because it traps moisture instead of keeping it away, thus making you feel colder. Instead, look for a tight-fitting and thin fabric such as silk, polyester, or one with synthetic fibres (polypropylene).
The second layer needs to fully insulate your body and continue carrying moisture away from the base layer to the outer layer. Fleece, wool, and down are good insulators.
The last layer (your jacket) is your shell. This ideally is breathable enough to let the moisture out, yet made to protect you from the cold, wind, and snow.
Layering not only keeps you warmer without excess weight, but it also allows you to easily add or remove clothing as the temperature changes during your activity.
Other parts of the body
Now that you have your core covered, don’t forget to keep your head, hands and feet warm. Invest in a good hat, neck warmer, gloves and a pair of socks because you can quickly lose heat without them. As with the rest of your clothing, look for similar fabrics that keep you warm and dry without the bulk.
Summer rules still apply
Most people take precaution and protect themselves from the sun during the summertime – little do people know that the sun can do some damage in the winter too. Glare from snow can actually cause sunburn or snow blindness, which is why it is important to apply sunscreen on sunny days and wear sunglasses if you can.
As well, your body will still heat up during physical activity and lose fluids through sweat. Cold air tends to dry the skin, which may increase the risk of dehydration. As with any physical activity, no matter what the season, make sure you drink water before, during, and after your sport.
Maintaining an active lifestyle is a lifelong commitment, which means we shouldn’t go into hibernation over the winter. A small investment in good quality gear for cold weather will make your activity more enjoyable and keep you motivated to achieve your fitness goals. Keep warm and may the Olympic fever inspire you to learn a new sport this winter.
Adrian Salonga is a graduate of the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor’s degree of Medical Rehabilitation in Physical Therapy. Please send your questions regarding mobility, health promotion, or injury prevention to firstname.lastname@example.org.