Posts Tagged ‘winter’

Thinking about my cold weather workouts… the doormen think I’m crazy to venture out in the cold, my neighbors are packing the gym… and my Mom still says “you’re gonna get sick!!!”   Does getting soaking wet with sweat during a winter workout seem to increase your risk of catching a cold?   Why does exercising in the cold increase your risk of having a heart attack compared with exerting yourself under temperate conditions?   Does cold weather exercise tend to cut excess fat from your body which might not fall during the summer?   I’m not about to tell you that your Mom or your Grandmother was wrong about exercise and getting sick in cold weather.  And I won’t promise you that you’ll drop a ton of weight running in sub freezing conditions but I do know that you will workout better if you understand your body and the physiological responses for exercising in cold air!  I know that I do!NYC11AF2

Ways to Cope with COLD

* During extremely cold weather, I try to find sheltered spots which are at least partly out of the wind. This will allow you to exercise more efficiently and reduce your risk of getting excessively cold. For example, I run in Central Park in the Winter and on the Hudson River in the Summer. The park is sheltered from winds, while the Riverfront offers a refreshing breeze in hot weather.

* Wear season-appropriate, adaptable clothes during runs. With today’s clothing technology there is no excuse to not be relatively comfortable during outdoor workouts ANY time of the year.  Get lightweight wind breakers, water resistant, and wicking clothes and you’ll feel good in winter weather!

* Two pairs of running shoes are necessary in winter weather. Winter’s slushy conditions often take their toll on shoes… running-shoe midsoles can become saturated with moisture. When midsoles get wet thy absorb shock less than dry soles, so leave water-logged shoes to dry out for 48 hours and use your second pair for the next day’s run.  I also tend to put my wet shoes near the heater to dry (but not close enough to melt the soles!)

* Drink!   Don’t reduce your fluid consumption.   I know I sweat in any weather!  But science shows perspiration rates are lower in the cold than in the heat, but cold weather exercise can still be dehydrating. For one thing, water is lost from the respiratory system at an increased rate on chilly days. Exposure to cold air can also increase the need to eliminate since urine prodution is increased.  You may not feel thirtsy in cool conditions but if you don’t drink you can become dehydrated which affects performance and makes it harder to stay warm. Taking at least 8 ounces of fluid immediately before a wintry workout. Doctors recommend to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water each day.

* Don’t overeat. As much as I would love to say I’m fattening up for my winter workouts… it’s any sort of adventage!  Accumulating “winter” fat under your skin offers no athletic help. It’s true that a fat person will feel more comfortable than a skinny individual when both are standing still in cold air, but the situation is reversed during exercise. Lean people can usually exercise more intensely than heftier folk and can therefore generate more internal heat. If your goal is to stay warm while exercising, being fit is definitely better than being fat! The exception to this rule is swimming, where a bit of fat under the skin prevents heat from being lost too rapidly to the water.

*Breathe in Your Nose more than Your Mouth which warms the air before it gets to your lungs.  Taking yoga classes really helped me learn this!

*RUN SMART!  Winter workouts depend on wind speed, too.   Look at the science!  A tolerable 32 degree F temperature will suddenly feel much colder when a swift wind develops, and the “feels like” coldness will plummet to about  23 degress F with a 19 mph wind.  It’s important to remember that running itself can amplify or minimize this ‘wind-chill’ effect. For example, running at 10 mph into a 9 mph wind provides the same chill as standing still in a 19 mph gale. For that reason, on windy winter days it is important to complete the first half of all your runs INTO the wind. The second half of the run – when fatigue is slowing you down, your body is generating less heat and your clothes are wet with sweat – should be completed with the wind at your back. Running at 8 mph with an 8 mph wind behind you totally eliminates any wind-chill effect, whereas running at the same speed into an 8mph wind produces the chilling effects of a 16-mph force.


According to the Gatorade Science Institue the BEST WINTER WORKOUT IS basically, 60-minute rounds of exercise in chilly air, where you attempt to push up the intensity a little rather than just poking lethargically along.  These workouts will allow the body to break down fat.  One useful strategy that I have just begun to try is  to exercise for about an hour in the evening after dinner then refrain from eating afterwards.  Get up early and complete another 60-minute bout of strenuous exercise on the following morning before breakfast. Your muscles will be quite glycogen-depleted during the sunrise session, causing fat to be metabolize at a higher rate than usual. This strategy also works during warmer parts of the year too according to many athletes, but the unique nature of cold weather running may tend to magnify fat utilization.



I like the cold.  I think mindset is one of the first hurdles.  If you don’t want to do it.  Don’t.  If you do, just recognized the different environmental factors!  It’s true our bodies perform differently under extreme weather conditions.  For example, researchers at Japan’s National Defense Medical College have shown that exposure to cold air enhances the activity of large white blood cells (which actually depress immune system functioning.) The mechanism underlying this negative change may involve hydrocortisone/cortisol, the hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to cold stress which tends to ‘turn down’ immune system activity. This somewhat perverse reaction may explain, at least in part, why getting chills during a workout seems to increase your risk of getting ill.  Fortunately, the Japanese research says those who train regularly in cooler air are less likely to experience downturns in their immune systems after workouts than those who are exposed to the cold only sporadically.  BEWARE!  Researchers aren’t exactly sure why cold air is worse but cold-air exposure is known to raise both the heart rate and arterial blood pressure, so increasing the stress on the heart. Human blood also clots more easily in cold weather, which might increase the risk of a coronary artery blockage. These changes are modified by frequent exposure to the cold, so it is probably sudden and unexpected or sporadic interactions with cold which carry the most risk, in other words, “heart attack” shoveling after big snow storms.

DANGER:  One of the dangers of cold weather workouts is that you can sometimes get too cold. The danger is not from freezing air but the combination of cold temperatures with sweat, or rain, or wind. Cold air doesn’t shut down the sweating process – so you need clothes that wick away the moisture.  If you get wet, you start to lose heat at an accelerated rate because water is not an insulator.  If you get wet from sweat or rain, expect to feel miserable.  Sometimes people wonder if inhaling large amounts of cold air could freeze the throat or respiratory tract.  The trick is breathing in your nose more than your mouth.  The risk appears to be quite low if you are able to pull most of the incoming air through your nose rather than your mouth. Bear in mind that even when the outside air is about 13deg F, inward-moving air is warmed to about 59deg F by the time it has moved just two inches into your nasal passages. By the time it reaches your larynx, it is close to 70, and the news is even better at the entry to your lungs, where the temperature of the in-rushing air is up to 86F.82760-17519-002f




History of 10 inch or greater Snow storms in Chicago


Since snow records began in 1886 in Chicago, there have been 41 winter storms that produced 10 inches or more of snow. A 10 inch snow occurs about once every 3 years. A 15 inch snow occurs only once about every 19 years. The closest back to back 10 inch snows were March 25-26 and April 1-2, 1970 (6 days apart). The longest period of time without a 10 inch snow or greater was February 12, 1981 to January 1, 1999 (almost 18 years). The earliest 10 inch snow was November 25-26, 1895 and the latest 10 inch snow was April 1-2, 1970. The most recent 10 inch snow was January 21-23, 2005.

Chicago’s 10 biggest Snowstorms:

1.23.0 inches Jan 26-27, 1967
2.21.6 inches Jan 1-3, 1999
3.19.2 inches Mar 25-26, 1930
4.18.8 inches Jan 13-14, 1979
5.16.2 inches Mar 7-8, 1931
6.15.0 inches Dec 17-20, 1929
7.14.9 inches Jan 30, 1939
8.14.9 inches Jan 6-7, 1918
9.14.3 inches Mar 25-26, 1970
10.14.0 inches Jan 18-20, 1886
Snowfall of 10 Inches or More for the Calendar Day January 2, 1999 18.6 inches December 12, 1903 11.3 inches
January 13, 1979 16.5 inches February 18, 2000 11.1 inches
January 26, 1967 16.4 inches February 3, 1896 11.0 inches
January 30, 1939 14.9 inches December 20, 1960 11.0 inches
January 6, 1918 14.4 inches December 10, 1934 10.9 inches
March 25, 1930 13.6 inches March 7, 1931 10.9 inches
March 2, 1954 11.5 inches February 3, 1901 10.8 inches
February 18, 1908 11.5 inches December 23, 1961 10.2 inches
February 28, 1900 11.3 inches December 27, 1894 10.1 inches
Deember 14, 1951 10.0 inches

Snowfall of 10 Inches or More – Storm Total January 21-23, 2005 11.2 inches
January 30-31, 2002 12.0 inches
February 18, 2000 11.1 inches
January 1-3, 1999 21.6 inches
February 10-11, 1981 11.2 inches
January 13-14, 1979 18.8 inches
February 6-7, 1978 10.3 inches
January 25-27, 1978 12.4 inches
January 9-10, 1977 10.9 inches
April 1-2, 1970 10.7 inches
March 25-26, 1970 14.3 inches
December 22-23, 1969 11.3 inches
January 26-27, 1967 23.0 inches
February 23-25, 1965 11.5 inches
December 22-23, 1961 11.7 inches
December 19-20, 1960 12.5 inches
March 2-3, 1954 11.8 inches
December 14, 1951 10.0 inches
December 5-8, 1950 13.3 inches
December 10-11, 1944 10.9 inches
January 30, 1939 14.9 inches
December 9-10, 1934 11.3 inches
February 6-7, 1933 12.7 inches
March 7-8, 1931 16.2 inches
March 25-26, 1930 19.2 inches
December 17-20, 1929 15.0 inches
March 30-31, 1926 12.6 inches
January 6-7, 1918 14.9 inches
January 12-14, 1910 10.2 inches
February 18-19, 1908 12.8 inches
December 12-13, 1903 11.6 inches
February 3-5, 1901 12.7 inches
February 28, 1900 11.3 inches
March 23-24, 1897 10.0 inches
February 12-13, 1896 12.0 inches
February 3-4, 1896 12.5 inches
November 25-26, 1895 12.0 inches
February 6-7, 1895 13.4 inches
December 27, 1894 10.1 inches
February 12-14, 1894 11.0 inches
January 18-20, 1886 14.0 inches