What to Do Tonight to Lose Weight Tomorrow

What to Do Tonight to Lose Weight Tomorrow

While losing weight isn’t something that happens overnight, doing some prep work the night before can make all the difference when you step on the scale. If slimming down and becoming healthier are two goals at the top of your priority list, here are four must dos to make part of your weeknight routine.

| Brown Bag It

Not planning ahead is one mistake nutritionists agree causes weight gain. You can avoid the temptation of eating countless calories at the local cafe by packing a lunch from home. When made right, salads are great because they’re full of fiber and protein to satisfy hunger and keep blood sugar steady. Prepare a salad in a mason jar like this roasted sweet potato and quinoa salad, or make extra for dinner and bring along this sesame ginger quinoa salad.

Whatever you choose, it’s much easier to add up the calories on lunches you pack from home. And when it’s made the night before, there’s no morning stress or forgoing it altogether because you don’t have time. Go the distance and pack snacks, too, and put everything in the actual lunch bag, so when it’s time to head out for the day, you can just throw in an ice bag, grab it, and go.

Related: Healthy Mason-Jar Salad Ideas

| Morning Time-Saver

After lunch is in the bag (literally), take a little time to prepare tomorrow’s breakfast. Eating breakfast is one way to jumpstart your metabolism, and if it’s full of fiber and protein, you’ll feel satisfied all morning long u2014 hunger- and energy-wise u2014 which eliminates the urge to snack on more calories. Instead of grabbing a quick bowl of cereal, a sugar-laden scone at the local coffee shop, or (gasp!) skipping out on breakfast altogether because you’re rushed, making breakfast at night will save time and calories.

If smoothies are your thing, premake these freezer packs, so you can throw them in the blender and be slurping down your first meal at the kitchen table or on the go. Overnight oats are also extremely filling, or go for this apple cinnamon quinoa bake. In the mood for something different that has debloating powers? This chia seed pudding makes mornings delicious. Once breakfast is made, you’re also more likely to wake up energetic and excited.

Related: Bake-Ahead Breakfasts For Weight-Loss Success

| Hit the Hamper

Skip the fitness gear morning roundup by getting everything you need for your workout ready the night before. If your sports bra is drying over the shower rod from your earlier workout, grab that, your tank, shorts, socks, sneaks, sunglasses, iPod armband, earbuds u2014 everything you need u2014 and lay it out or throw it in your gym bag. Calorie-burning workouts are much more likely to happen if you deliberately take the time to prep for them. And if you make this a habit every night before a workout, you’re more likely to get in the rhythm of a regular exercise routine.

Related: The Best Ways to Wash Workout Clothes

| Get Cutting

You don’t want to undo all the good you did for the day by coming home tomorrow night starving and throwing together a quick and probably not-the-healthiest meal. So now that tomorrow’s lunch, breakfast, and workout gear are all set, take a little time to prep for tomorrow night’s dinner.

Cut up some peppers, zucchini, and sweet potatoes to roast or grill later. Or make an enormous salad, cook up some whole grains like millet or barley, soak quinoa to make this quinoa pizza crust, or get this spaghetti squash “pasta”” bake in a dish and store it in the fridge so it’s ready to cook up for tomorrow. If you don’t feel like spending anymore time in the kitchen

How to Make Yourself Do Everything You Hate Doing

Our friends at Men’s Health know how hard it is sometimes to motivate ourselves. Luckily, they have a trick to increase our willpower.

Unless you’re Tony Robbins, finding the motivation to exercise can be tougher than the actual workout itself. Your willpower can be easily defeated by the demands of a family, the responsibilities of work, or even the enticing glow of a TV.

That’s probably why dozens of studies over the last three decades have all found that more than half the people who start an exercise program quit within one year.

Lack of motivation may also play a large role in the reason why 68.8 percent of Americans are overweight or obese.

So are we all screwed? Or is there a way to keep motivation consistently flowing?

The key may be a process called “temptation bundling,” according to a study in Management Science.

The process pairs two activities¡ªone you should do, but avoid; and one you enjoy, but isn’t necessarily productive, explains lead study author Katherine Milkman, associate professor of Operations, Information, and Decisions at The Wharton School.

In her 7-week study, Milkman found that participants went to the gym significantly more often when they were given audio books to listen to during their workouts than when they weren’t given them.

The simple act of bundling exercise (the activity you avoid) with an audio book (the activity you enjoy) increased the participants’ willpower to stick to a workout regimen, Milkman explains.

But they weren’t listening to War and Peace. “These books were pre-rated as addictive,” she explains. “So you had books like The DaVinci Code, The Bourne Supremacy, Hunger Games. They were cliffhangers.”

In essence, they were tempting, so the participants looked forward to going to the gym to listen to them.

And the motivational effect was even stronger when the bundling was withheld between training sessions, instead of being self-imposed, Milkman says.

When Milkman’s team locked the audio book devices away in a locker between training sessions, participants worked out 60 percent more often. That number dropped to just 40 percent when the participants were allowed to listen to their books outside of the gym, too.

If you think temptation bundling sounds starkly different from the “No pain, no gain!” philosophy that conventional wisdom has taught us to employ when it comes to exercise, you’d be right.

Instead of forcing yourself to do something you don’t like, you’re turning the activity into a positive one. One that you actually look forward to.

And that’s a much more sustainable approach than telling yourself to just “suck it up!” all the time.

It works so well, in fact, that 60 percent of the study participants said they’d be willing to pay a monthly amount for someone to restrict access to their audio books in order to increase their motivation. On average, the participants said they’d pay $7 to have their temptation locked up.

One participant, however, said they would pay as much as $100 a month.

Stop to think about that: People struggle with workout motivation so much that they’d actually pay someone to take away their own possession if it resulted in more willpower.

You can use temptation bundling outside of the gym, too, Milkman says.

For instance, you could watch an episode of the latest season of Homeland every Sunday night as you iron your work shirts or fold laundry. You could pay bills while cracking a cold beer and tuning into the Monday night game.

Or you could finally catch up with your annoying relative at a restaurant that serves the burgers you always crave, says Milkman.

You can use temptation bundling for almost anything, she says, but you should take into consideration the actual date you start.

Milkman’s co-author, Hengchen Dai, assistant professor of organizational behavior at Washington University in St. Louis, has found that temptation bundling may be most effective when it begins on a temporal landmark¡ªor a moment that signals a transitional point in our mind. Think: a new year, your birthday, or even the start of a new season.

“You may feel psychologically different on this day than any regular day,” Dai says. And therefore, “more motivated to start or engage in an activity that helps you reach a goal.”

Check out more great tips from Men’s Health:

Try These 30-Minute Cardio and Muscle Workouts That Transform Your Body5 Guys Who Wake Up at 4 a.m. to Work Out Tell You How They Do It13 Exercises That Are Better Than Burpees For Fat LossImage Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Ericka McConnell

How to Make Yourself Do Everything You Hate Doing

Our friends at Men’s Health know how hard it is sometimes to motivate ourselves. Luckily| they have a trick to increase our willpower.

Unless you’re Tony Robbins| finding the motivation to exercise can be tougher than the actual workout itself. Your willpower can be easily defeated by the demands of a family| the responsibilities of work| or even the enticing glow of a TV.

That’s probably why dozens of studies over the last three decades have all found that more than half the people who start an exercise program quit within one year.

Lack of motivation may also play a large role in the reason why 68.8 percent of Americans are overweight or obese.

So are we all screwed? Or is there a way to keep motivation consistently flowing?

The key may be a process called “temptation bundling|” according to a study in Management Science.

The process pairs two activities¡ªone you should do| but avoid; and one you enjoy| but isn’t necessarily productive| explains lead study author Katherine Milkman| associate professor of Operations| Information| and Decisions at The Wharton School.

In her 7-week study| Milkman found that participants went to the gym significantly more often when they were given audio books to listen to during their workouts than when they weren’t given them.

The simple act of bundling exercise (the activity you avoid) with an audio book (the activity you enjoy) increased the participants’ willpower to stick to a workout regimen| Milkman explains.

But they weren’t listening to War and Peace. “These books were pre-rated as addictive|” she explains. “So you had books like The DaVinci Code| The Bourne Supremacy| Hunger Games. They were cliffhangers.”

In essence| they were tempting| so the participants looked forward to going to the gym to listen to them.

And the motivational effect was even stronger when the bundling was withheld between training sessions| instead of being self-imposed| Milkman says.

When Milkman’s team locked the audio book devices away in a locker between training sessions| participants worked out 60 percent more often. That number dropped to just 40 percent when the participants were allowed to listen to their books outside of the gym| too.

If you think temptation bundling sounds starkly different from the “No pain| no gain!” philosophy that conventional wisdom has taught us to employ when it comes to exercise| you’d be right.

Instead of forcing yourself to do something you don’t like| you’re turning the activity into a positive one. One that you actually look forward to.

And that’s a much more sustainable approach than telling yourself to just “suck it up!” all the time.

It works so well| in fact| that 60 percent of the study participants said they’d be willing to pay a monthly amount for someone to restrict access to their audio books in order to increase their motivation. On average| the participants said they’d pay $7 to have their temptation locked up.

One participant| however| said they would pay as much as $100 a month.

Stop to think about that: People struggle with workout motivation so much that they’d actually pay someone to take away their own possession if it resulted in more willpower.

You can use temptation bundling outside of the gym| too| Milkman says.

For instance| you could watch an episode of the latest season of Homeland every Sunday night as you iron your work shirts or fold laundry. You could pay bills while cracking a cold beer and tuning into the Monday night game.

Or you could finally catch up with your annoying relative at a restaurant that serves the burgers you always crave| says Milkman.

You can use temptation bundling for almost anything| she says| but you should take into consideration the actual date you start.

Milkman’s co-author| Hengchen Dai| assistant professor of organizational behavior at Washington University in St. Louis| has found that temptation bundling may be most effective when it begins on a temporal landmark¡ªor a moment that signals a transitional point in our mind. Think: a new year| your birthday| or even the start of a new season.

“You may feel psychologically different on this day than any regular day|” Dai says. And therefore| “more motivated to start or engage in an activity that helps you reach a goal.”

Check out more great tips from Men’s Health:

Try These 30-Minute Cardio and Muscle Workouts That Transform Your Body5 Guys Who Wake Up at 4 a.m. to Work Out Tell You How They Do It13 Exercises That Are Better Than Burpees For Fat LossImage Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Ericka McConnell

Your Best Guide to CrossFit Lingo

The following post was originally featured on Fit Bottomed Girls and written by Jenn, who is part of POPSUGAR Select Fitness.

“Hey, wanna go to the local box and do a Metcon WOD? I heard it’s EMOM with double-unders! I wonder if we can RX it . . .”

Did you just understand that? ‘Cause that was a whole lotta CrossFit lingo thrown your way.

And we get it. If you’re not into CrossFit, it can sound like its own language. In fact, there’s so much CrossFit lingo that it’s kind of like a whole new vernacular. And a bit intimidating for first-timers.

So for this edition of WTF Does That Mean, we’re breaking down CrossFit lingo, bit by bit. Or, actually, word by word.

Your Guide to CrossFit Lingo:

1 rep max: This is short for one-repetition maximum, which means the heaviest amount of weight you can lift one time and one time only. Usually done with moves like deadlift, cleans, and front and back squats.

AMRAP: This stands for “as many rounds as possible.” A form of circuit training, an AMRAP workout gives you a set of moves with reps and then you do that circuit as many times as you can in the time allotted. Here’s an AMRAP workout for example.

Box: A box is simply a CrossFit gym. As one might guess, CrossFit gyms are pretty much just big open boxes ¡ª very warehouse-y. (Yes, that’s a word.)

Chipper: This one isn’t about a state of mind. Rather, a chipper is basically the workout from hell (but fun hell!). It usually combines a lot of moves a lot of times ¡ª and you “chip” away at them. (If you’ve ever watched the CrossFit games, this is usually a format they use for at least one workout ¡ª and it’s crazy intense.) That said, a lot of people who do CrossFit are chipper. Especially the early morning CrossFitters. So there’s that.

Couplet: Oh, look at the cute CrossFit couplet! But it’s not exactly what you think. Couplets are two complimentary exercises (not people) put together in a specific set formation to make a WOD (more on that in a bit). Like this one. Adorbs, right?

Double-unders: What would it be like to jump once and have a jump rope go around you twice? That, my friends, is a double-under. Here’s a good video on how to do ’em.

EMOM: Every minute on the minute! For this type of workout, every time a minute starts, you do a specific exercise or set of moves. Once you’ve done the move(s), you rest until the next minute starts. Then you do it all over again for the prescribed amount of time. A good example of this one is Chelsea.

For time: Simply put, this means that the workout you’re doing will be timed. And posted on a board at the gym. In other words, go for speed!

The Girls: The CrossFit Girls may sound lovely ¡ª Fran, Chelsea, Annie ¡ª but they’re known as benchmark workouts that are TOUGH that are done time and time again. If you see any female’s name as a WOD, know you’re in for a tough one and do your best. As you get fitter, it is fun to see your times improve.

Hero WOD: These are really challenging workouts that are named after military servicemen, police or firefighters who have died in the line of duty. They are extra hard and help to remember the sacrifice these people made.

Kip: Kip or kipping is basically using full-body momentum to do a move. You’ll see it used mostly with pull-ups, but also with moves like handstand push-ups and toes-to-bar (there’s some bonus CrossFit lingo/moves for you there!).

Ladder: A ladder is a workout where you increase the reps by one for each round. So if you’re doing a ladder workout of kettlebell swings and burpees, you’d do 1 rep of each for round 1, 2 reps of each for round 2, 3 reps of each for round 3 and so on and so forth.

Metcon: This simply stands for metabolic conditioning. Which also means, this workout is most likely short but going to take you to the highest level of cardio you can go.

Rhabdo: No matter what you call it ¡ª rhabdomyolysis, rhabdo, “Uncle Rhabdo” ¡ª it’s serious. This syndrome is due to muscle injury or high-intensity workouts and is rare but can be life-threatening. Read more on it here and here. It’s basically like soreness taken to the next insane and crazy level with a total inability to move and dark urine (no joke). Just another good reason to always listen to your body, modify as needed (no ego) and get your rest days in (and make sure you’re at a quality box with good coaches!).

Rx: This means “as prescribed,” meaning that you did the workout as originally planned ¡ª with no modifications to movements or weight.

Strict: Now that you know what kip means, strict is basically the opposite of it. So when you do, say, a strict pull-up, you don’t use any momentum to get your chin above the bar at all.

Tabata: Hey, we have a whole post on this special type of interval workout!

WOD: This CrossFit lingo term is an easy one and probably the most used of all: Workout of the Day (WOD)!

Image Source: Shutterstock

Your Best Guide to CrossFit Lingo

The following post was originally featured on Fit Bottomed Girls and written by Jenn| who is part of POPSUGAR Select Fitness.

“Hey| wanna go to the local box and do a Metcon WOD? I heard it’s EMOM with double-unders! I wonder if we can RX it . . .”

Did you just understand that? ‘Cause that was a whole lotta CrossFit lingo thrown your way.

And we get it. If you’re not into CrossFit| it can sound like its own language. In fact| there’s so much CrossFit lingo that it’s kind of like a whole new vernacular. And a bit intimidating for first-timers.

So for this edition of WTF Does That Mean| we’re breaking down CrossFit lingo| bit by bit. Or| actually| word by word.

Your Guide to CrossFit Lingo:

1 rep max: This is short for one-repetition maximum| which means the heaviest amount of weight you can lift one time and one time only. Usually done with moves like deadlift| cleans| and front and back squats.

AMRAP: This stands for “as many rounds as possible.” A form of circuit training| an AMRAP workout gives you a set of moves with reps and then you do that circuit as many times as you can in the time allotted. Here’s an AMRAP workout for example.

Box: A box is simply a CrossFit gym. As one might guess| CrossFit gyms are pretty much just big open boxes ¡ª very warehouse-y. (Yes| that’s a word.)

Chipper: This one isn’t about a state of mind. Rather| a chipper is basically the workout from hell (but fun hell!). It usually combines a lot of moves a lot of times ¡ª and you “chip” away at them. (If you’ve ever watched the CrossFit games| this is usually a format they use for at least one workout and it’s crazy intense.) That said| a lot of people who do CrossFit are chipper. Especially the early morning CrossFitters. So there’s that.

Couplet: Oh| look at the cute CrossFit couplet! But it’s not exactly what you think. Couplets are two complimentary exercises (not people) put together in a specific set formation to make a WOD (more on that in a bit). Like this one. Adorbs| right?

Double-unders: What would it be like to jump once and have a jump rope go around you twice? That| my friends| is a double-under. Here’s a good video on how to do ’em.

EMOM: Every minute on the minute! For this type of workout| every time a minute starts| you do a specific exercise or set of moves. Once you’ve done the move(s)| you rest until the next minute starts. Then you do it all over again for the prescribed amount of time. A good example of this one is Chelsea.

For time: Simply put| this means that the workout you’re doing will be timed. And posted on a board at the gym. In other words| go for speed!

The Girls: The CrossFit Girls may sound lovely Fran| Chelsea| Annie but they’re known as benchmark workouts that are TOUGH that are done time and time again. If you see any female’s name as a WOD| know you’re in for a tough one and do your best. As you get fitter| it is fun to see your times improve.

Hero WOD: These are really challenging workouts that are named after military servicemen| police or firefighters who have died in the line of duty. They are extra hard and help to remember the sacrifice these people made.

Kip: Kip or kipping is basically using full-body momentum to do a move. You’ll see it used mostly with pull-ups| but also with moves like handstand push-ups and toes-to-bar (there’s some bonus CrossFit lingo/moves for you there!).

Ladder: A ladder is a workout where you increase the reps by one for each round. So if you’re doing a ladder workout of kettlebell swings and burpees| you’d do 1 rep of each for round 1| 2 reps of each for round 2| 3 reps of each for round 3 and so on and so forth.

Metcon: This simply stands for metabolic conditioning. Which also means| this workout is most likely short but going to take you to the highest level of cardio you can go.

Rhabdo: No matter what you call it ¡ª rhabdomyolysis| rhabdo| “Uncle Rhabdo” ¡ª it’s serious. This syndrome is due to muscle injury or high-intensity workouts and is rare but can be life-threatening. Read more on it here and here. It’s basically like soreness taken to the next insane and crazy level with a total inability to move and dark urine (no joke). Just another good reason to always listen to your body| modify as needed (no ego) and get your rest days in (and make sure you’re at a quality box with good coaches!).

Rx: This means “as prescribed|” meaning that you did the workout as originally planned ¡ª with no modifications to movements or weight.

Strict: Now that you know what kip means| strict is basically the opposite of it. So when you do| say| a strict pull-up| you don’t use any momentum to get your chin above the bar at all.

Tabata: Hey| we have a whole post on this special type of interval workout!

WOD: This CrossFit lingo term is an easy one and probably the most used of all: Workout of the Day (WOD)!

Image Source: Shutterstock

If You Wear Yoga Pants, You’re Going to Want to Tune In

You basically live in your yoga pants. They’re comfy, practical, and perfect for all kinds of workouts as well as every other outfit you put on. But some scary things can go on down there, due to your leggings. YourTango gives us the inside scoop about why wearing your yoga pants all the time can be pretty nasty.

Um, gross.

It’s tempting. You’ve just finished up an intense session at the gym or biked that 25 miles, and instead of taking a shower and changing into some clean clothes, you decide to just stay in your workout clothes.

They may look good on you and are comfortable, and it’s not like there aren’t people doing errands or picking up the kids in their athleisure wear. But the problem is that constantly wearing workout clothes such as yoga pants, leggings, and other athletic apparel can lead to some icky and unpleasant side effects.

Because workout wear is often tighter fitting, it has a tendency to hold warmth and moisture in. The body then becomes the perfect environment for bacteria to grow and flourish ¡ª a living petri dish for microbes and organisms.

Disgusted yet? OK, hold on. If you wear your favorite yoga pants all day/every day, here are some health issues that can develop.

1. Bacterial infections of the hair follicles

These infections can go from bad to worse pretty quickly and can be caused from the follicles rubbing against clothing or shaving. The first is folliculitis, a superficial infection of a single hair follicle that looks like a bunch of small red bumps or whitehead pimples, which can spread and turn into nonhealing crusty sores.

Next, there are furuncles/boils, deeper infections of the hair follicle that look like raised red bumps on your skin but can rupture and weep fluid (gross). If you have a number of boils, you get a carbuncle, which is deeper and more severe than the rest.

2. Fungal infections

Fungal groin infections can start in one area, such as athlete’s foot, and spread to other areas like the groin, making it itchy and irritable.

3. Vaginitis and vaginal infections

You know when you’ve got one because of the pain, itch, and funky smell. What’s extra special is you can have more than one at any given time. Make sure it’s breathable down there, and you might be able to avoid them.

4. Intertrigo

This is a very common inflammatory condition that affects areas of the skin that are in contact with each other, such as the groin, armpits, under the breasts, and any skin folds. It’s caused by frictional rubbing, increased temperature, and moisture and is complicated by various microorganisms.

You can avoid these thoroughly unpleasant infections by wearing moisture-wicking material designed to draw the moisture away from the body and by working out, showering, and changing into clean, loose-fitting clothing after you’ve done your 5K or hiked that hill.

Also, always remember to breathe . . . everywhere.

Check out more great stories from YourTango:

My Husband’s Pants Choice Is Killing Our Sexy TimeThe Number One Rule We Keep in the BedroomBend It Like Beckham: 7 Reasons You Need to Date a Yoga LoverImage Source: Shutterstock

If You Wear Yoga Pants, You’re Going to Want to Tune In

You basically live in your yoga pants. They’re comfy| practical| and perfect for all kinds of workouts as well as every other outfit you put on. But some scary things can go on down there| due to your leggings. YourTango gives us the inside scoop about why wearing your yoga pants all the time can be pretty nasty.

Um| gross.

It’s tempting. You’ve just finished up an intense session at the gym or biked that 25 miles| and instead of taking a shower and changing into some clean clothes| you decide to just stay in your workout clothes.

They may look good on you and are comfortable| and it’s not like there aren’t people doing errands or picking up the kids in their athleisure wear. But the problem is that constantly wearing workout clothes such as yoga pants| leggings| and other athletic apparel can lead to some icky and unpleasant side effects.

Because workout wear is often tighter fitting| it has a tendency to hold warmth and moisture in. The body then becomes the perfect environment for bacteria to grow and flourish a living petri dish for microbes and organisms.

Disgusted yet? OK| hold on. If you wear your favorite yoga pants all day/every day| here are some health issues that can develop.

1. Bacterial infections of the hair follicles

These infections can go from bad to worse pretty quickly and can be caused from the follicles rubbing against clothing or shaving. The first is folliculitis| a superficial infection of a single hair follicle that looks like a bunch of small red bumps or whitehead pimples| which can spread and turn into nonhealing crusty sores.

Next| there are furuncles/boils| deeper infections of the hair follicle that look like raised red bumps on your skin but can rupture and weep fluid (gross). If you have a number of boils| you get a carbuncle| which is deeper and more severe than the rest.

2. Fungal infections

Fungal groin infections can start in one area| such as athlete’s foot| and spread to other areas like the groin| making it itchy and irritable.

3. Vaginitis and vaginal infections

You know when you’ve got one because of the pain| itch| and funky smell. What’s extra special is you can have more than one at any given time. Make sure it’s breathable down there| and you might be able to avoid them.

4. Intertrigo

This is a very common inflammatory condition that affects areas of the skin that are in contact with each other| such as the groin| armpits| under the breasts| and any skin folds. It’s caused by frictional rubbing| increased temperature| and moisture and is complicated by various microorganisms.

You can avoid these thoroughly unpleasant infections by wearing moisture-wicking material designed to draw the moisture away from the body and by working out| showering| and changing into clean| loose-fitting clothing after you’ve done your 5K or hiked that hill.

Also| always remember to breathe . . . everywhere.

Check out more great stories from YourTango:

My Husband’s Pants Choice Is Killing Our Sexy TimeThe Number One Rule We Keep in the BedroomBend It Like Beckham: 7 Reasons You Need to Date a Yoga LoverImage Source: Shutterstock

Find Out the Real Truth About Exercising in the Cold

Winter is upon us and we all want to keep up with our workout routines, no matter what the thermometer says. But is it bad for us to continue our exercise out in the cold? Details gives us the 411 about working out during the colder months.

If you’ve ever exercised in the cold, you know the sensations. Your muscles feel tighter. Your toes and hands go numb. The cold air rushing through your mouth and nose, down your windpipe, and into your lungs can feel harsh and, at times, painful. Afterward, you may have a slight, sometimes dry, sometimes wet cough. These sensations can cause wonder, and worry. “Is it bad to work out in the cold?” you may ask yourself. “Are my muscles supposed to feel this way? Is the cold air doing harm to my lungs and body?” We spoke with Dr. Sean Robinson of the Oregon Health and Science University, an avid winter runner with a Certificate of Added Qualification in sports medicine, for some answers.

Stretch Smart

No matter the temperature, before you workout, you need to warm up. But, when it’s cold, it’s doubly important. “Muscle contraction is negatively affected by temperature,” Robinson explains. “The stiffness that you feel in the cold weather is related to this issue. The thought is that the muscle has a harder time getting oxygen from your blood in colder temperatures and your muscles need oxygen to contract, thus making contraction more difficult.” So, how do you counteract the tightness and make sure it doesn’t turn into pain and injury? Dynamic stretching.

“The notion of stretching before running is often debated,” Robinson states. “There are a group of experts who feel that injury prevention is not affected if you stretch prior to exercising, and a group that feels it helps. Most will agree that dynamic stretching is better than static stretching. Cold weather will generally make you feel stiff, and a gentle dynamic stretching routine can do wonders for your muscles.” When it’s cold out, Robinson prefers warming up outdoors to prepare his body for the weather.

Listen to Your Lungs

Your muscles aren’t the only thing affected by the cold, though. The cold, dry air has been known to cause pain in people’s throats and lungs, and though it isn’t always a sign of something serious, it’s worth monitoring. “Your lungs function as your natural air filter and humidifier,” says Robinson. “There are some athletes who are prone to bronchospasm (the small airways in your lungs will spasm and shrink), and this can cause pain, coughing, and shortness of breath. Other individuals may get an initial bronchospasm but their body will normalize and allow them to continue.” If coughing, shortness of breath, or any pain continues, Robinson advises talking to your doctor.

Hydrate to Avoid Hypothermia

When you exercise in warm weather, your body has to work especially hard to keep your body cool. You sweat, you cool down, you get thirsty, you drink. In cold weather, the burden isn’t as extreme, you tend not to notice the sweat under your layers, and as a result, you can forget to stay hydrated. “Hydration is just as important during cold weather as warm,” Robinson explains. “You sweat more than you realize. The risk of hypothermia increases with dehydration, so be sure to drink even if you’re not thirsty.” If you run with a reservoir, Robinson’s trick is to blow air into the tube after you take a sip to ensure the tube is full of warm air, not freezing water.

Dress For the Elements

Another key to avoiding hypothermia, or general coldness that can lead to sickness or numbness in your extremities, is wearing the right clothing. Pure cotton is a no-go because while it pulls the sweat from your body, it doesn’t evaporate quickly, leaving you with a damp, cold layer. A cotton-and-polyester mix is what you want. “A polyester-cotton material provides the better combination of pulling sweat and enhancing evaporation to keep you warm, dry, and comfortable,” says Robinson. “Layering an insulated wind-resistant shell with a sweat-wicking base is advised.” Robinson also mentions that if you’re feeling a little under the weather, you can still exercise in the cold, but pay attention to what your body is saying. However, if you have a fever over 100.4?F, take a day off, as exercising with a fever can put you at risk for heat illness.

Finally, once you’ve finished your workout, be sure to get inside and change into dry clothes as quickly as possible. If you’re going to be outside for a while afterward, bring a towel to dry off and some extra layers to maintain your body’s temperature. Oh, and if your throat is a bit parched or your body is a bit cold, try a hot beverage. Gin and tea, anyone?

Check out more great stories from Details:

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Find Out the Real Truth About Exercising in the Cold

Winter is upon us and we all want to keep up with our workout routines| no matter what the thermometer says. But is it bad for us to continue our exercise out in the cold? Details gives us the 411 about working out during the colder months.

If you’ve ever exercised in the cold| you know the sensations. Your muscles feel tighter. Your toes and hands go numb. The cold air rushing through your mouth and nose| down your windpipe| and into your lungs can feel harsh and| at times| painful. Afterward| you may have a slight| sometimes dry| sometimes wet cough. These sensations can cause wonder| and worry. “Is it bad to work out in the cold?” you may ask yourself. “Are my muscles supposed to feel this way? Is the cold air doing harm to my lungs and body?” We spoke with Dr. Sean Robinson of the Oregon Health and Science University| an avid winter runner with a Certificate of Added Qualification in sports medicine| for some answers.

Stretch Smart

No matter the temperature| before you workout| you need to warm up. But| when it’s cold| it’s doubly important. “Muscle contraction is negatively affected by temperature|” Robinson explains. “The stiffness that you feel in the cold weather is related to this issue. The thought is that the muscle has a harder time getting oxygen from your blood in colder temperatures and your muscles need oxygen to contract| thus making contraction more difficult.” So| how do you counteract the tightness and make sure it doesn’t turn into pain and injury? Dynamic stretching.

“The notion of stretching before running is often debated|” Robinson states. “There are a group of experts who feel that injury prevention is not affected if you stretch prior to exercising| and a group that feels it helps. Most will agree that dynamic stretching is better than static stretching. Cold weather will generally make you feel stiff| and a gentle dynamic stretching routine can do wonders for your muscles.” When it’s cold out| Robinson prefers warming up outdoors to prepare his body for the weather.

Listen to Your Lungs

Your muscles aren’t the only thing affected by the cold| though. The cold| dry air has been known to cause pain in people’s throats and lungs| and though it isn’t always a sign of something serious| it’s worth monitoring. “Your lungs function as your natural air filter and humidifier|” says Robinson. “There are some athletes who are prone to bronchospasm (the small airways in your lungs will spasm and shrink)| and this can cause pain| coughing| and shortness of breath. Other individuals may get an initial bronchospasm but their body will normalize and allow them to continue.” If coughing| shortness of breath| or any pain continues| Robinson advises talking to your doctor.

Hydrate to Avoid Hypothermia

When you exercise in warm weather| your body has to work especially hard to keep your body cool. You sweat| you cool down| you get thirsty| you drink. In cold weather| the burden isn’t as extreme| you tend not to notice the sweat under your layers| and as a result| you can forget to stay hydrated. “Hydration is just as important during cold weather as warm|” Robinson explains. “You sweat more than you realize. The risk of hypothermia increases with dehydration| so be sure to drink even if you’re not thirsty.” If you run with a reservoir| Robinson’s trick is to blow air into the tube after you take a sip to ensure the tube is full of warm air| not freezing water.

Dress For the Elements

Another key to avoiding hypothermia| or general coldness that can lead to sickness or numbness in your extremities| is wearing the right clothing. Pure cotton is a no-go because while it pulls the sweat from your body| it doesn’t evaporate quickly| leaving you with a damp| cold layer. A cotton-and-polyester mix is what you want. “A polyester-cotton material provides the better combination of pulling sweat and enhancing evaporation to keep you warm| dry| and comfortable|” says Robinson. “Layering an insulated wind-resistant shell with a sweat-wicking base is advised.” Robinson also mentions that if you’re feeling a little under the weather| you can still exercise in the cold| but pay attention to what your body is saying. However| if you have a fever over 100.4?F| take a day off| as exercising with a fever can put you at risk for heat illness.

Finally| once you’ve finished your workout| be sure to get inside and change into dry clothes as quickly as possible. If you’re going to be outside for a while afterward| bring a towel to dry off and some extra layers to maintain your body’s temperature. Oh| and if your throat is a bit parched or your body is a bit cold| try a hot beverage. Gin and tea| anyone?

Check out more great stories from Details:

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