Jack Frost will definitely be nipping at our noses this weekend, as cold and snowy weather returns to the Rocky Mountains. Did you know that working out in the frosty air actually burns more calories than doing so in warm weather? This is because your body has to work harder to maintain its normal temperature. So it’s time to take the treadmill outside and winterize your exercise!
The better prepared you are at the outset, the more you will enjoy your outing. Simple maneuvers like buying your lift ticket and renting your gear ahead of time will save you from the hassle of waiting in line in the cold. But being prepared is not just about avoiding long lines – it’s about staying safe.
Winterize your safety
- Start by fueling your body with high carb foods such as pasta, rice, bread and potatoes. These will not only provide the energy you’ll need on the slopes and trails, but because of thermogenesis, they will also help raise your body temperature despite sub-freezing temperatures.
- Your first day out should be light in intensity to allow your body to adjust to the knee, core and hip movements unique to skiing and snowshoeing. Listen to your body and know when to call it quits. Injuries tend to occur later in the day when the body’s fatigued.
- Recognize the symptoms of altitude sickness: nausea, dizziness, fatigue, drowsiness, and lethargy. If you feel these symptoms, you should stop, rest, and breathe. Take in a simple sugar such as a piece of candy or a fruit drink, and then travel as soon as possible to a lower elevation.
- Watch the weather forecast for temperature and wind chill. Return indoors before it gets dark or the weather turns hazardous.
- Wear your sunglasses and sunscreen even on cloudy days, and dress in layers.
- Take lessons from a professional to learn the correct techniques and appropriate equipment.
- Always do a warm-up and cool-down and do easy trails first.
- Ski the buddy way. Head up the slopes with a friend or make sure somebody knows where you are.
- Ski and board under control and not so fast that you cannot stop suddenly.
- Keep enough distance between you and other people on the trails. Stop look and listen, where you can be seen, especially at intersections. The downhill skier, boarder or snowshoer has the right of way. Watch for natural obstacles such as trees. Avoid using your iPod or MP3 player – you need to stay aware and focused on the trail.
- Don’t venture onto closed trails and backcountry areas, and obey all signs and warnings.
- Make frequent stops for water and snacks along the way. You need 2 quarts of water per day.
- Know the signs of hypothermia: Shivering, slowed speech, memory lapse, stumbling, drowsiness, and exhaustion. Immediately get out of all wet clothes and into a warm, dry area, and put on dry clothes. Drink hot tea or broth and sit by a warm fire or other heat source.
- Be familiar with the signs of frostbite: In mild cases, skin turns red and stings. In moderate and severe cases, skin turns grey, mottled white or waxy white. Intense stinging or complete loss of sensation occurs. Treat frostbite by restoring body temperature as quickly as possible by immersing in a water bath of less that 110 degrees and serving warm drinks. Do not rub the affected area; if clothes are stuck to the area, do not pull to remove. Dry the area off and cover it until it thaws and medical help arrives.
- Enjoy a soak in the hot tub with some hot chocolate to recharge your batteries for the next day.
A little preparation and forethought go a long way toward an enjoyable winter outing. Your basic gear includes an eclectic assortment of gadgets and goods and will take some effort to accumulate. But look at it this way — outfitting yourself for winter sports means you get to go shopping!
Winterize your gear. Pack your backpack or car with the following items:
- Hats (70% of body heat is lost through the head) and gloves
- Helmet, goggles and/or sunglasses
- Colored tape or ribbon to mark your trail
- Snow probes or avalanche beacons
- First aid kit and sunscreen
- Multi purpose fold-up tool (mini tool kit)
- Emergency blanket
- Duct tape
- Matches and flashlight (make sure batteries are working)
- Mirror and whistle for signaling when injured, lost or otherwise stranded
- Hand and foot warmers
- Plastic garbage bag
- Kleenex and lip balm
- Cell phone
- Energy snack food
Winter exercise burns some serious kilocalories:
- Downhill 374/hour
- Snowshoe (packed) 500/hour
- Snowshoe (powder) 745/hour
- Snowboard 400/hour
- Nordic 500/hour
So there you have it – all the background and gear you’ll need for safe and healthy winter outings. Enjoy – and happy swishing!