If you live in a part of the world where March and the winter season in general isn’t cold, icy, and snowy, this post may not be helpful for you. (Also, I am a little jealous of your tropical or temperate environments at the moment!)
For everyone else, keep reading. I have some questions for you.
Is it a smart idea to exercise outdoors at this time of the year?
What should fitness enthusiasts keep in mind about working out in slippery conditions and when the weather patterns are shifting rapidly as the season changes from winter to spring?
Let’s dig into these questions as well as other some points that everyone should ponder before deciding whether or not exercising outdoors between the months of December and March is a good decision for them.
The right gear makes all the difference in the world when it’s raining one minute, snowing the next, and everything could and probably will freeze into a slippery mess overnight.
Do your shoes have a strong grip?
How warm is your coat?
Does it rain often enough in your community that waterproof gear is recommended?
How easy would it be for you to add or remove layers of clothing during your workout?
Will any of your sports equipment be damaged if it’s regularly exposed to snow, ice, rain, or freezing temperatures?
One of the many reasons why I don’t exercise outdoors during the winter has to do with the type of gear I have. It’s perfect for the other three seasons, but it doesn’t work so well when the ground is covered in snow or ice and with the windchill it feels like -20C outside.
Sure, I could buy shoes and outerwear that’s suited for these conditions, but this isn’t something I’m prioritizing. Indoor workouts suit me just fine for the time being. When my current gear wears out, I’ll revisit this topic then.
Your Current Health and Fitness Levels
I didn’t want this post to make any assumptions about the health and fitness levels of the people reading this post. Several of my friends are living with chronic physical health problems that limit what they’re able to do when they exercise no matter where they are or what season it is. This is even more true for them when there’s an increased danger of slipping on icy surfaces or tripping over piles of snow.
Even as someone who is able-bodied and in pretty good shape overall, I’m still extra cautious on slippery paths due to how many times I’ve sprained my ankles and wrists in the past. My body is strangely good at injuring itself in that way, so I try to avoid hurting myself yet again when I’m outside and the ground is slick.
The kinds of questions you’ll need to ask yourself for this section are going to vary quite a bit based on your interests and current physical abilities. So much depends on what kinds of exercise you’re doing and how much progress you’re hoping to make while the season changes from winter to spring.
All of the types of exercise I do can easily be done indoors, and many of them honestly work much better under those conditions given the part of the world I live in. For example, weightlifting outdoors on a snowy or rainy day honestly isn’t something I ever want to try!
In no way are my fitness goals hampered by indoor workouts. If anything, July and August is the time of the year when I tend to slack off a little in this department due to how muggy it is then and how much I dislike working up a sweat when the hot weather already has me perspiring.
This isn’t true for every sport, activity, or goal, though.
There are certain practical questions that should be asked before deciding whether exercising outdoors is a smart decision in the area where you live.
How often and how well are the roads shovelled and salted in your community? If you’re a cyclist, how safe would it be for you to ride on them after a big storm?
If there are sidewalks in your neighbourhood, how often and how well are they shovelled and salted? Is there truly enough space for joggers and pedestrians alike there?
Imagine you fell and broke a bone or sprained an ankle while working out. How long would it be before someone noticed that you needed assistance and came to help you?
What have you seen other fitness enthusiasts doing? If other people are exercising outdoors at this time of the year, that’s a good sign.
The sidewalks where I live are sometimes half-covered by mounds of snow that were ploughed off of the road. At other times our sidewalks do have plenty of space on them to accommodate everyone, but after big storms there really is only enough room for a single-file line of walkers going each direction.
There are people here in Toronto who go out for a jog at all times of the year, but they’re pretty selective about where they go for their runs. I see many more of them once all of the ice has melted away for the year.
Your Personal Preferences
As you may have already guessed, this is something that ultimately boils down to personal preference once all of the practical and safety considerations have been taken into account.
I’m not someone who finds outdoor exercise all that enjoyable, so I’d much rather wait until spring has officially arrived and the sidewalks are free of ankle-spraining debris before I change how and where I workout.
Of course, your mileage may vary. If you love exercising outside, good for you! Come tell me why and how it works for you in the comment section of this post.
2 Responses to Should You Exercise Outdoors in March?
I have to exercise outside because my two dogs need it–but I don’t push the pace. I do physical therapy and strength exercises inside, but I only missed 2 days of outside exercise this winter because of freezing rain. I get my trekking poles and snow gear and off I go. My older dog is a study in how helpful exercise is for healthy aging–and the same with me.
Wow, good for you, Elaine! I’m glad to hear it.