If you live somewhere with cold, snowy weather in the winter, you probably adjust your exercise routines for several months each year. Staying indoors and running day after day on a treadmill or using the elliptical trainer can become monotonous. You would love to get outdoors and train. Can you exercise in cold weather safely?
Most of the time, you can. You need to prepare for the conditions, though. These are some suggestions to safely exercise in cold winter weather.
First you have to dress appropriately.
Instead of one thick garment that can cause you to overheat, you should dress with layers. Layers allow you to remove a garment or put it back on to adjust to changes in temperature and your body’s heat production. A combination of three layers is optimal to prevent heat loss. The innermost layer should consist of polyester fabric that wicks away moisture from your body. You should avoid cotton since it absorbs sweat and could keep your body wet. Your second layer can be thin or heavy depending on the climate and exercise. Your outermost layer should be a windproof and waterproof shell. Also remember not to overdress, as exercise generates heat and sweat.
Protect your head and extremities to prevent loss of body heat.
Wear a hat, gloves or mittens, and warm, moisture-wicking socks. Also wear sunglasses and sunscreen on sunny days to protect your eyes and prevent sunburn from the ultraviolet rays that can reflect off snow and ice.
Try to run into the wind.
If the second half of your run is directed into a strong wind, the air flowing past you can feel extremely cold when your clothes are damp with sweat and cause your body temperature to drop.
Wear shoes with appropriate tread.
When you exercise in cold weather, be careful and wear shoes appropriate for slick or icy conditions on trails, sidewalks and roads.
Recognize signs of hypothermia and frostbite.
Loss of feeling, tingling, or loss of color in your face, hands, fingers, and toes are signs of developing frostbite. Mental status changes such as confusion or disorientation, slurred speech, and uncontrolled shivering can be signs of impending hypothermia. If you notice any of these changes, you should get into a warmer environment immediately and slowly warm your body and the parts that are affected. Also consider training with a partner to watch out for each other.