So how does the body raise the temperature? If the thermostat is responsible for keeping our house at a good temperature in our home, the equivalent in our organism is the hypothalamus, a region of the brain that is in charge of different bodily functions including evaluating the temperature of neurons and receiving this information from all areas of the body. If the hypothalamus detects that the temperature is low, it activates the appropriate mechanisms to increase it, an action that is replicated when we perform sports in cold outdoor areas:
- Muscle contraction: the decrease of the degrees in the thermometer causes involuntary muscle contractions that increase muscle tone. These contractions consume energy that is transformed into heat.
- Vasoconstriction: this mechanism narrows blood vessels (reducing their diameter) and increases resistance to the passage of blood to the body surface. This prevents heat loss.
- Goose bumps: this common term we use to refer to piloerection is another of the resources used by the human body to maintain heat: the hair of the skin is lifted, the layer of air is trapped under the hair and prevents heat loss.
- The metabolism is set in motion: finally, the production of different hormones in the thyroid glands is stimulated and increased, the hormone THR and TSH (the latter in the pituitary gland) are elevated and as a consequence the rest of the body's cells produce heat.
How and when to train?To begin with, Rodriguez reminds us that daylight hours are always the best for training, especially during the first hours until 12:00 in the morning.
Regarding the duration of physical exercise, he points out that it will be given by the usual practice. "As a general rule, whether indoor or outdoor, with cold or heat, I find the best ratio benefits / training time in no more than 1 hour. The key to training will be found in the intensity and not so much in high durations," he specifies.
In addition, the expert places special emphasis on choosing the right equipment to be used and opting for breathable garments that will improve the regulation of body heat. "You have to be very generous in sheltering the most distal points: hands, feet and head, and not in sweatshirts, double mesh, etc. We must bear in mind that the cold we feel as soon as we go out is going to be very different from the cold we feel after only 5 minutes of training, so excess clothing can be very uncomfortable", he adds.
Having these points clear, the director of Health Zagros Sports La Moraleja recommends that when choosing the activities opt for continuous exercises and / or with medium / high intensity. "If you like to do outdoor training with flexions, squats, burpees, etc., I would always choose to do it on circuits, as we must avoid high rest times", he advises.
What not to do when you train in cold weatherOne of the most common mistakes when practicing sports in winter and outdoors is related to warming up. On the one hand, the lack of it can cause muscular injuries; on the other hand, when we go outside and face the cold we warm up too intensely to get warm earlier. "This is going to cause more oxygen debt and it is going to weigh down the whole training. Cold training does not change the general prescriptions of our warm-up," explains the specialist.
In addition to the absence of warm-up, another cause of injury can be the excess recovery time that causes some degree of temperature loss to our muscles. "We must understand that if the muscle temperature drops, its viscosity is also reduced, so its contractility will be compromised. That is why we stress the importance of shortening rest times.
Finally, not covering the extremities well (especially if there is poor peripheral circulation) can contribute to the appearance of chilblains. Rodriguez's solution is to wear gloves, a panty or a hat, which will never bother us when it comes to training.
So how can we practice sports in cold weather without compromising our health? Once we are well wrapped up and have warmed up, we have to start progressively the first days of intense cold (below 4ºC) and increase the duration little by little during the first week.
"If you've never done sports, it's best to start with indoor sports in winter. It's too much stress for the first time, but you should never postpone or not do a workout because it's cold!