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Get moving during the cold and dark days

It’s getting chilly. The days are getting shorter and temperatures are dropping. Many people lack the motivation to put on their running or walking shoes during this period. Yet you can still enjoy your walk or run during these cold days. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced athlete, the low temperatures don’t have to stop you from successfully completing your training, provided you take the right precautions. With these tips, you can beat the cold.

1. The sun, our source of vitamin D

Everyone enjoys the sun and our bodies also experience many benefits from sunshine. The sun is our primary source of vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for our bones and teeth (along with calcium). Vitamin D also ensures that our muscles function properly, that our resistance is optimal and that our brain stays in top shape. Take advantage of sunny moments and plan a run during your lunch break. Running or walking when it is still light outside is the ideal way to compensate for the lesser absorption of vitamin D during this dark period. 

2. The rhythm in your step 

The exhilarating pace of your favourite music that motivates you to go the extra mile? A mesmerising radio voice that makes you instantly forget the freezing temperatures? The right music or podcast will motivate you to defy the cold! Put together your own running playlist beforehand and put the rhythm in your step!

3.Three layers for the winter cold

During the winter period, it is important to wear enough clothing, but your body also needs to be able to 'cool down' sufficiently. So put aside thick and heavy clothing and opt for layers! Wearing layers keeps you warm and you can easily take something off if it gets too muggy. 

During the winter months, choose the three-layer system:

  • Layer 1: Breathable (warm weather clothing)
  • Layer 2: Insulating (clothing for cold and chilly weather) 
  • Layer 3: Protective (clothing for rain and wind)

In extremely cold temperatures, it is best to start with ‘Layer zero’, being thermal underwear. 

Also, avoid cotton clothing. Cotton retains moisture which will make you feel cold quickly. 

4. Protect your extremities

Your head, neck, hands and feet are all very sensitive to winter temperatures. You should protect them, especially when running. In cold temperatures, you can lose up to 70% of your heat through these 'cold points'. Always choose your gloves, socks, scarf or buff, hat or headband according to their insulating properties. 

5. Keep your feet dry 

In winter, it's important to keep your feet dry. Choose running or walking shoes that are snow and rainproof and give you enough grip on slippery surfaces. Don't tie your shoelaces too tightly as this can prevent good blood circulation and cool your feet.

6. Check your breathing

It is important to always pay attention to your breathing during exercise. Correct breathing contributes greatly to the quality of your training. When it's very cold and there's also a lot of wind, it's advisable to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. This way the cold air is warmed up before it reaches your lungs. 
Are you going for a run with interval training? Then a good warm-up is a must. Prepare a few short accelerations so that your breathing is already triggered and you are ready for the next training session. 

7. Take care of visibility 

Have you chosen to run or walk in the dark? Make sure you are visible to others, wear a light and/or reflective clothing. Chest and ankle lights are handy because they stay in place, while head lights tend to slip when you sweat. A light also ensures that you can see where you are putting your feet in the dark, especially with all the puddles and any mud/ice in the winter. This way you also prevent injuries by avoiding a fall.

With these tips you can master the cold!

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