Good Sweat: Walking When It’s Cold Out

Deciduous trees dressed in winter’s austerity

The temperatures have dipped back down into the 20’s and when it’s windy, the wind chill often drops the “feels like” temperature as much as 10 degrees…not to mention that walking uphill and into a headwind makes it that much more challenging! But we’re trying to do something physically challenging, right? And there are bonuses to walking when it’s cold out!

So what, pray tell, are those bonuses (you may be wondering)? We love walking when it’s cold out because it keeps the fair weather walkers indoors. Fewer people out on the trails means fewer reactive dogs and distractions for ours. Definitely a good thing!

The cold can also be invigorating, provided you dress appropriately for it. We intentionally walk fast enough to get the blood flowing and break a sweat, so I typically wear layers. Today, with the cold temperatures but not much of a breeze, I wore my usual yoga-type pants with a form-fitting (you don’t want the cold breeze blowing into a billowy shirt, and a tighter one will hold your body heat in) polypropylene long-sleeved shirt, topped by a medium-thickness sweater jacket. I won’t lie: my legs, especially my quads, get cold in those thin pants, but my core is warm. If it had been much colder, I would have added a layer of thin thermal pants, too. I also wore a thin, warm knit hat, and wearing a hat really makes a difference in keeping you warm in cold weather.

Most of the people we encountered on our walk, at a new park, today were dressed much more warmly, with heavy jackets and pants on. Why? Because they were taking a leisurely stroll. We, on the other hand, were there to burn calories and wear those pups out. When I started to feel like I was cooling down (like after snapping photos), I would jog a bit to get my heart rate back up. Even if I had begun to feel chilled, I sure wasn’t chilly for long!

Another bonus to the cold weather: the wintry scenery. The park we went to was comprised of paved trails that wound around a disc golf course. There were abundant oak trees, so a dense layer of oak leaves blanketed the sides of the trail. Squirrels chattered in the trees (drawing the dogs’ attention, of course) and rummaged around in the plentiful mast, which included acorns and lots of hickory nuts.

A certain tree called to me when I passed it on the trail (several times, since the trail loop was only 1 mile long), and I had to stop and take a photo. The sinuous roots reminded me of an octopus’s arms, winding and twisting. What does it make you think of?

We had a good walk and enjoyed the wooded trails. I wish the trail had been longer and steeper in places, but we can find ways to make it more challenging (walking faster or jogging) and can get in the desired distance by making several circuits. The park has dog poop bag stations, but they were all empty, so it’s a good thing we carry our own with us. Better safe than sorry…dog poop on the trail is a downer.

2 thoughts on “Good Sweat: Walking When It’s Cold Out

  1. When I hike in the winter, I layer as well! I love the picture of the tree that you included! It seems like the roots/base of the tree grew around the small wooden post in the picture.

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