1. Boosting your immune system
Training in the cold season does more than simply keep the body fit. Not only does it enable you to maintain your summer training level and burn excess calories, but each moderate exercise session also acts as a valuable boost for your immune system.
2. Choose the right clothing
Wear the right sports clothing when practising sweat-inducing sports. The onion-skin principle, i.e. several layers on top of each other, is best. If you train in the dark, wear a reflective vest and, if possible, a headlamp. And don't forget your cap – we lose a large part of our body heat through the head.
3. Icy temperatures down to -15 degrees
If possible, always breathe through your nose in winter, as this warms the air and causes it to humidify. By the way, even when the air temperature drops to minus 15 degrees (max), the body still manages to heat the air to such an extent that the bronchi are not damaged.
4. Shift down a gear
If you shift down a gear during winter you can still breathe through your nose. The fact is: if you run around like crazy in sub-zero temperatures, you risk not only suffering an irritation of the airways but also, in extreme cases, cold asthma. This is because the mucous membranes are also sensitive to cold air, as it causes them to dry out quickly, making them more susceptible to viruses. But if you reduce the intensity of your runs, breathing is less deep, which means that less cold air enters the respiratory tract.
5. Warming up in winter
Warming up is useful in all seasons.
- Endurance sports: start your workout at a moderate pace and only increase the pace after about ten minutes.
- Coordination activities: for sports like alpine skiing, a special warm-up session is highly recommended. Besides general warm-up exercises such as running on the spot, you are also advised to practise mobilising exercises on the relevant joints.
6. Hands and feet freeze despite sweating
This is a normal biological reaction. Because of the minus temperatures, the body goes into alarm modus and tries to keep all the vital organs warm. For this purpose, it withdraws heat where it is most dispensable: from the body’s extremities. Here too, the onion-skin principle applies: the best protection is to wear two pairs of socks or gloves.
7. Drink a lot in winter too
In the cold season, we tend not to feel so thirsty. But it’s not the case that the body needs less liquid in winter. The dry air from indoor heating raises evaporation levels and extracts water – so you should drink at least two litres of liquid a day. And if you do endurance sports, you will need extra fluid. Fruit or herbal teas without sugar, or ginger water, make a change from water. Warm liquid makes it easier to drink enough in winter and warms the body from the inside.
8. Training together
When training in a group, you’ll benefit in several ways: besides the fact that it’s much easier to start running in the cold or in the dark in a group, it will boost your enthusiasm and you’ll achieve your goals more quickly. Whether in a running group, with your partner, friends or work colleagues, give it a try. And it’s surprising how often an interesting conversation will help you forget your aching legs.
9. Am I getting a cold?
As soon as you feel a cold coming, you need to act with caution. You can read more about this in our article Training with a cold: is this a good idea? (in german)
And if you really can’t bring yourself to exercise outdoors, there are all kinds of ways of keeping active in the warm, whether in the fitness centre, swimming pool, living room or climbing hall. There’s really no excuse!