Unless you are living in Arctic or Arctic-like conditions, you can safely exercise in your not-so-warm and cozy garage gym and even outdoors!
That's what American College of Sports Medicine claims.
It conducted an extensive study and concluded that you can safely exercise in most freezing conditions provided you exercise some precautions to prevent frostbite and other cold-weather risks.
You don’t be afraid of that annoying runny nose or a few sneezes. It is a normal thing when you are outside in the cold. The inside of our nostrils generates moisture to humidify the air we inhale. The excess moisture creeps out of the nostrils. It isn’t a bad thing and doesn’t indicate any problem. Rather, it is our body’s defensive mechanism to prevent our sinuses from drying out.
So, don’t pack away your workout gear and don’t let the cold spell take a toll on your fitness routine. You can and you must exercise more in cold conditions to keep yourself warm and healthy. In this blog, we will tell you why and how you can safely exercise in your garage gym without suffering frostbite or getting injured due to excessively stiff muscles.
Please note: if you have asthma, heart problems, Raynaud's disease, or any other condition that becomes worse in winters, working outdoors or in a cold garage may not be a good idea. Until the weather becomes favorable, use your living room space to do whatever you can to stay fit.
Is it safe to exercise outside or in cold garage gyms during winters?
As mentioned above, numerous studies have concluded unless you have any underlying condition such as asthma, it is absolutely safe to exercise outdoors or in a cold garage.
Here are some of the reasons why you must stop hibernating in your blanket and start exercising in your garage gym:
- The Texas Heart Institute claims that exercising during the cold weather helps cure ‘winter blues’. Depression (i.e. seasonal affective disorder or SAD) is quite common during the colder months of the year. The American Academy of Family Physicians states that 4-6 percent of Americans suffer from severe seasonal depression and another 10-20% of people show mild symptoms. As we all are aware, exercise is an excellent stressbuster, which is why, instead of being couch potato, we must spend an hour every day in our garage gyms. You can go for outdoor exercises too such as jogging, walking, etc. Sunlight can further improve your mood.
- American Heart Association and the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention state that winter workouts can help boost your immune system and protect you against seasonal diseases. Both indoor and outdoor workouts are totally OK.
- In cold weather, you will be able to exercise for longer because you won’t feel as exhausted as you do on hotter days. This means you will be able to achieve more!
Working out in your garage gym shouldn’t be challenging if you prepare it and prepare yourself for the cold. Here is how you can do it.
How to workout in your garage gym during winters
Insulate your garage doors
Don’t worry; you don’t need to spend a thousand dollars and hire someone to make sure your garage stays protected from the outside environment. You can do it yourself using many DIY kits available online such as the Owens Corning Garage Door Insulation Kit and Matador SGDIK001 Garage Door Insulation kit. These kits come with well-written instructions and even manufacturer’s videos so you can easily do it yourself on a weekend.
For more help or ideas, you can watch this video:
Warm up your workout space
Sounds obvious, isn’t it? Heating your garage gym is the best way to keep yourself nice and toasty throughout your workout but heaters consume a significant amount of electricity. Plus, heaters take some time to show their effect. Heavy-duty infrared heaters and torpedoes can take 20-25 minutes to get fully hot whereas the standard low-cost heaters can take up to two hours, depending on the garage temperature.
This means, you will have to go to the garage to switch the heater on, then come back and do whatever you have at hand, and then go to the garage again after 30 minutes or an hour until the space has been properly heated up. Most of us wouldn’t want to wait or pay a heavily inflated electricity bill, which is why we recommend you to dress in layers to beat the cold in the garage.
Dress in layers
Layering up sounds pretty obvious but most people don’t know how to dress up the right way. It doesn’t matter how many layers you are wearing; what matters is what you are wearing and how. Here are some tips:
- The first layer i.e. the fabric that touches your body shouldn’t be cotton. Activewear made of cotton soak up the sweat pretty fast but they hold the moisture longer than polyester, nylon, and polypropylene. If your inner layer remains damp, you will obviously feel cold enough to cut your workout short. Further, a damp inner layer increases your risk of hypothermia and frostbite (explained below). So, buy activewear made of sweat-wicking synthetic fabrics. You may choose merino wool, which is softer than traditional wool and provides more warmth than synthetic fabric. But, wool can make you feel itchy as you warm up, so we do not recommend it to be used directly on skin, especially if you have sensitive or itchy skin.
- The next layer should be your insulation layer, which will trap your body heat and make you feel warmer. You can wear a long-sleeve t-shirt or pullover made of polar fleece or Merino wool. Wear fleece pants too.
- Next, wear a lightweight sweater. Make sure the sweater isn’t restricting the movement of your body. You should be able to maintain your body’s natural movement without any restriction. You may wear a breathable sweatshirt instead of a sweater.
- Cover your hands, feet, head, and neck too. Thick wool socks, a beanie, a scarf, and warm gloves should be worn before leaving home, so you have the least possible uncovered skin when you step out in the cold.
Gloves or no gloves?
Well, it’s your personal choice. Many fitness experts argue that lifting heavy weights with gloves can get risky. No matter how grippy the gloves are, nothing can be trusted more than your bare hands. Moreover, gloves could limit your hand movement. Many others, however, claim that a cold bar can give you a cold shock, which can cause numbness. You may use them if you are lifting light or if you are very confident; decide what suits you. If you are exercising without gloves, you can wear them in between sets. Your hands will soon adapt to the cold bars. Or you can warm up your barbells!
Warm up your barbell
Did you know there are dedicated barbell heaters that you can wrap around the rod to heat it up? A company Thermacell manufactures such products but they are ridiculously expensive. If they don’t fit your budget, use a hairdryer!
The best thing about the hairdryer is that it provides a very focused heat, so within minutes your shockingly cold rod will become comfortably warm. Once it gets warm, you probably won’t have to heat it up again unless you take a long break. Heaters are expensive. They consume a lot of electricity and can take up to an hour or two to create a comfortable workout environment. And yet, your barbell rod could remain cold enough to be used, which is why your hair dryer should stay in your garage gym.
Other than a dryer, you can also use chalk to create a barrier between the barbell rod and your hands. Chalk won’t be as effective as a hair dryer but it still works.
Winter workout safety tips
Seek out help if you suffer from frostbite or hypothermia
Well, if you are exercising in a garage, the chances of frostbite are very less. Yet, you must be careful.
Frostbite usually happens in exposed areas of the body such as cheek, nose, and ears. Common signs are numbness, loss of sensation, or stinging sensation. If you suspect frostbite, immediately go inside in a warm cozy space. Slowly (do not just heat up high immediately) warm the area where you experience the mentioned symptoms. Do not rub the area to warm it up; it could damage the skin. Wait for a few minutes. If you don’t feel any improvement, seek medical help immediately.
Hypothermia is a condition in which your body’s temperature goes abnormally low when you are exposed to a colder environment. Usually, our body can maintain its normal temperature in all possible conditions. But, if you have hypothermia, your body will not be able to produce enough heat to cope up with the drop in environmental temperature. Common signs are intense shivering, slurred speech, loss of coordination, and fatigue. If the symptoms do not subside within a few minutes of being in a warm condition, seek medical help.
Avoid sprains and injuries by doing warm ups
Cold and tight muscles are extremely prone to strain, sprain, and injuries. So, you must warm up adequately before starting your workout in a cold place. You can do your warm up exercises inside your home but we recommend you to start all together in your garage gym, so your body doesn’t get cooled until you reach there.
Many fitness experts recommend that you should spend a bit more time warming up during winters than you do in summer. This is because our stiff and resistant muscles need more time to give up their opposition and become relaxed for the upcoming workout session.
The drying power of the winter wind can easily dehydrate you before you could realize. So, make sure you drink enough fluid to stay hydrated throughout your workout and even throughout the day. Whether you are exercising in your garage or outside, make sure you carry your water bottle and keep sipping water after every 10-15 minutes of your workout.
Winter is the best time to hibernate under a pile of blankets and do what they call ‘Netflix and Chill’. But, we urge you not to declare yourself as the sovereign citizen of the couch and stick to your fitness routine as usual. The above-mentioned tips will help you exercise cozily. Keep reading our blog for more helpful tips and information.