Busting winter work-out myths

Laura Williams

WORRIED it’s not safe to spin with a sniffle? Thinking of packing the SPF away with the bikinis? I’ve debunked the top winter exercise myths below:

It’s best to stick to indoor workouts in the winter. False. It’s fine – good even – to exercise outside, regardless of the temperature. A UK study found that any outdoor exercise in green spaces has a profound positive effect on your mental health. However, when it’s very cold, make sure you warm up first. That might mean a brisk walk before you start running, or postponing sprinting until you’re well into your run.

You should never work out when you’re ill. False. But do always obey the ‘neck rule’: if you’ve got symptoms below the neck such as a fever and body aches, or a cough or cold that you can feel in the chest, you should lay off the exercise. But for symptoms above the neck such as a runny nose and sneezes, you should be okay.

You don’t need to worry about rehydrating when it’s cold. Definitely false. Although it’s easy to think you need to drink less when it’s cold, you’re still doing all the things that dehydrate you in warm weather (like sweating, breathing, and having increased urine production) so don’t let the cooling effects of cold air, rain and even snow mask your sense of fluid loss.

You don’t need to bother with sunscreen when exercising outside in the winter. False. Although UV radiation is considered to be lower in the winter, it’s still present. SPF is vital regardless of the season if you’re exercising outdoors, for everything from skin cancer prevention to premature ageing - even more so if you're exercising in the snow or at high altitudes. So, that après-ski, sunglasses and stripey sunscreen look is a must all year round.

Cold air can freeze your lungs. False. However, airways do tend to narrow in cold weather which can make breathing (especially inhalation) tougher. Breathing in through your nose can help to warm the air, but failing that, wrapping a scarf around your mouth can help to keep your inhalations moist. laurawilliamsonline.co.uk