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Wintertime for some athletes means indoor cycling and treadmills. It's the dark, chilly off-season, and they can't wait for this time to end. Some, on the other hand, see winter as a genuine paradise — a chance to embark on endless explorations and contests, putting to good use all of their summertime cross-training. Winter can be difficult for focus and optimism because of the biting cold and short days that can interfere with motivation.
Finding something fresh and distinct from the rigors and demands of the winter season is crucial.
Skills Needed for Winter Sports
Winter sports typically call for faster movements and greater strength and power. Consider sports like hockey, skiing, and snowboarding. These are the most popular winter sports, both for practicing and for betting. If you enjoy sports betting and are based in Kenya, feel free to check one of the nation’s well-liked bookmakers, SportPesa. With the easy SportPesa login and an array of betting options, you will definitely find your wagering match there.
Anyway, back to the topic.
Sport-specific training will improve your athletic ability regardless of the season you participate in or compete.
Consider skiing as an example. A turn takes less than a second, whether you ski for fun or competitively. It involves a swift downward squat, followed by an extension and preparation for the subsequent turn. Skiers will execute hundreds of these turns in a single run. Squats are a common training exercise used by skiers who want to improve their form.
The ability to balance your body mass over changing terrain is a prerequisite for almost all outdoor winter sports.
Hockey replaces changing terrain with quick stops, quick starts, and direction changes, but the overall balance is the same. Being able to quickly adjust your body mass to whatever position the terrain throws you into is one of the keys to balance in any sport. You must land in a balanced position to avoid faceplanting if a bump in the snow flies you into the air.
Practice Makes Perfect
The practice of maintaining your balance while moving more quickly is a useful strategy for enhancing your sense of balance. For example, walking lunges are a great way to improve your balance. Once more, increase your pace by beginning the exercise without the use of weights. Start with light weights, maybe just a 10-pound kettlebell in each hand, until your joints get used to the exercise. It will take at least six workouts to condition your shoulders, core, and lower body to move while holding weights.
It takes more than just layering up to compete and train in the cold. To maintain your health and maximize your training or performance, there are a few other considerations, such as proper nutrition.
This is applicable to athletes who compete in winter sports, where the cold, including snow and ice, is an inherent part of their sport, as well as summer athletes who must train in cold winter conditions due to their home location. It is inevitable that you will have to train in the cold at some point; it just adds another level of variation to your preparation and execution. Below are some tips for those who love training in the cold.
- Extra fuelling demands. Exercises in the cold have a higher metabolic cost than exercises in more comfortable temperatures. To keep our bodies warm at the core and to add moisture to the air we breathe, our bodies have to work harder. In addition, wearing additional layers of clothing makes moving around more difficult, especially in icy, wintry weather. As the weather gets worse, wind chill becomes an issue. Sweating from overdressing for the intensity of the workout or getting wet from rain increases heat loss. Because they have a higher surface area to mass ratio, lean athletes are more vulnerable to heat loss. In the winter, this can lead to an increase in energy consumption of up to 10% to 15%.
Many people experience an increase in hunger and appetite as a result of this, and it can be simple to overcompensate — after all, comfort food and cold weather seem to go hand in hand, and the majority of us tend to gain weight during the winter!
Some athletes, on the other hand, work hard to suppress their appetite during training; intense exercise, at least temporarily, does just that. As a result, these athletes must work hard to consume enough calories to meet the demands of their training regimens and fitness objectives.
- Hydration is key. In the winter, hydration is a crucial but frequently disregarded aspect of athletic performance. Although the desire to drink tends to decrease in colder weather, colder temperatures actually increase our need for fluids. Dry, cold air increases urine production while also increasing respiratory water loss. We also lose the tactile and visual cues to stay hydrated because we are not perspiring as much or as visibly as we would in hot, muggy weather. When the temperature drops, cold drinks can also seem unappealing, which makes people want to drink less. Athletes can quickly become dehydrated in the winter.
- Vitamin D deficiency. Shortage of vitamin D is a common consequence of winter. For some, winter means spending less time outside in the sun. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that functions as a hormone in the body. This could have a significant impact on vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a number of health problems, as it is necessary not only for immune system function but also for calcium absorption and bone health maintenance. The greatest source of vitamin D is sunshine, but fortified dairy products, fatty fish, and egg yolks are also good dietary sources. A yearly or seasonal blood test is worthwhile for athletes to monitor their levels and, if needed, consider supplementation.
- Challenging time for summer athletes. The winter is frequently a time of decreased training, or "off-season," for athletes who compete in summer sports. It can be difficult to stay focused during this period, and the temptation of rich, comforting foods coupled with a lack of urgency in terms of training can result in unintended or less-than-ideal weight gain. In these situations, eat hearty, filling foods that are warm and comforting without being heavy. Soups, stews, warm beverages, and roasted vegetables are all excellent choices.
Maintaining fitness, staying motivated, addressing some weaknesses or imbalances, and having active fun can all be achieved by continuing with some activity, even if it's a little less structured than during competition season, or by taking up a whole new winter sport.
- Effects of elevation. In many cases, winter sports are linked with altitude. Athletes should be aware of nutritional tactics to lessen the negative physiological effects of elevation on their performance and overall health. The atmospheric pressure of oxygen decreases with elevation, making it more difficult for body cells, especially active muscles, to receive oxygen. Altitude sickness, which is characterized by headaches, nausea, decreased appetite, low energy, and a generally "flat" feeling, is brought on by this hypoxic state. This is undoubtedly something that every athlete who has been to altitude has encountered to some extent, and the effects can begin at approximately 6000 feet above sea level. Altitude has diverse effects on people, but fortunately, most people adjust within a few days and start to feel and function better. Because of their increased energy requirements and decreased appetite, athletes who train hard or are extremely lean should be aware that altitude can cause them to lose weight.
Carbohydrates are a productive energy source at altitude. Sufficient fuel for training and recuperation will help an athlete maintain their health and maximize training adaptations while also supporting their immune system.
Make an effort to include nutrient-dense, high-carbohydrate foods like:
- ?? whole grains,
- ?? fruits,
- ?? dried fruits,
- ?? vegetables,
- ?? nuts,
- ?? seeds,
- ?? eggs,
- ?? high-quality dairy products.
Pros of Training in the Cold
Let's get right to the point before we get into the specifics: training during the winter is very efficient because it causes our bodies to adjust to the cold, which raises blood pressure. This increases the amount of energy used to produce body heat; to put it another way, the cold quickens our metabolism's ability to produce heat and keep us warm. Having said that, some of the main advantages of working out in the winter are listed below.
?? The goal is to learn how to be at ease with discomfort. Your body is shocked by cold training, which compels your mind to concentrate on perseverance and prepares you for future success in stressful or unfamiliar circumstances. At different phases of training, it also provides physical benefits that enhance performance and recuperation.
?? An acute stressor stimulates the body during training. Studies reveal that this may facilitate mitochondrial biogenesis (skeletal muscle adaptation), increase energy levels overall, and sharpen a person's fight-or-flight response, enabling them to make snap judgments and quick adjustments.
?? Whole body cold therapy helps the anti-inflammatory response during recovery, which decreases muscle swelling and inflammation. This lowers inflammatory markers and stops muscle damage.
?? Additionally, engaging in physical activity in colder weather encourages the body to convert white fat — particularly white fat accumulated in the thighs and abs — to brown fat. The latter will produce heat and thus more readily burn calories from your body to keep your body temperature at the ideal level in the winter.
?? Long-term outdoor training promotes stronger immune function, higher-quality sleep, and an enhanced body's capacity to self-regulate after stressful activities like intense exercise. It improves autonomic nervous system strength over time, facilitating transitions between alert and relaxed states.
?? Benefits extend beyond physical health. In addition to enhancing mental acuity and clarity, training in a cold environment can also foster resilience and long-term confidence. The brain can be trained to endure cold exercises, which will help it become more adept at handling other challenging tasks.
Dangers Around the Corner
Professional athletes who train in the cold recommend avoiding the following pitfalls.
Frostbite and other freezing injuries pose a risk to winter sports participants. Although it can happen to hands and feet that are clothed, frostbite is most common on exposed skin when tissue temperatures drop below 0°C.
Cold-weather training also frequently results in respiratory issues such as exercise-induced asthma and bronchial hyperresponsiveness. During more intense exercise, breathing through your mouth can cause your body to lose more heat and moisture from the expired air, which can worsen your asthma.
The body finds it far harder to adapt to cold-weather training than it does to hot-weather training. Convective heat transfer from the skin loses heat more easily in these circumstances, making it challenging for the body to regulate its internal temperature.
In colder weather, fitter athletes perform better than their less fit counterparts at maintaining a given exercise intensity and producing more heat through metabolism; however, if heat loss outpaces heat production, the body's total heat content drops, and the temperature of the core and peripheral tissues begins to drop. Hypothermia can occur when the body's core temperature falls below 35°C, which can cause shivering, disorientation, exhaustion, and slurred speech. Lower body temperatures have the potential to cause irregular heartbeats and, in extreme cases, death.
Choice of Clothes
It is preferable to wear two layers rather than five, but these should offer the most comfort. Remember that if you wear a lot of extra layers, you will get hot quickly after warming up, and they might irritate you if you start perspiring. Taking them off during your workout will facilitate your recovery.
Purchasing technical apparel made of synthetic fabric is, therefore, a smart idea, particularly for the layer that comes into contact with the body.
Regarding this, we advise against wearing cotton and instead wear fleece or wool. Cotton is a material that readily absorbs moisture, which can result in clothes that are soaked in sweat and make you feel uncomfortable or cold because your body produces less heat.
Not every pair of sneakers is safe and comfortable, so choose wisely. Always wear sneakers to prevent serious issues like plantar fasciitis and foot pain. These days, there are even products on the market designed specifically for sports like basketball, volleyball, running, etc. Additionally, there are shoes designed specifically for pronators and supinators so you can work out in complete comfort.
To sum up, the information in this article should have given you all the knowledge you need to understand the advantages of exercising during the colder months. We provided some tips offered by professional athletes to help you excel in cold weather. However, to ensure a thorough and effective workout, make sure you are dressed appropriately and keep a few precautions in mind before engaging in your favorite physical activity in cold weather. We hope you don't let the rain or cold cause you to miss out on your training now that you are aware of the health benefits of exercising in the cold, as long as you remember the previously mentioned safety measures.