Fitness for All: Winter Fitness- Safety for Exercising Outdoors

Written by Lisa Jillanza

The cold months are upon us and once again we take to the outdoors to get some winter exercise in. Try these tips for exercising during the cold months to stay motivated, fit, and warm.

Stay safe during winter exercise. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any outdoor exercise routines, as many people with certain conditions – like asthma and heart problems – may have some conflicts with their medications and the colder weather.

Check the weather conditions and wind chill. Temperature, wind, and moisture, along with the length of time that you’ll be outside, are key factors in planning a safe cold-weather workout. The wind can penetrate your clothes and remove the insulating layer of warm air that surrounds your body. Any exposed skin is vulnerable to frostbite.

Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite is most common on exposed skin, such as your cheeks, nose, and ears. It can also occur on hands and feet. Early warning signs include numbness, loss of feeling or a stinging sensation. Hypothermia is abnormally low body temperature. When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Exercising in cold, rainy weather increases the risk of hypothermia. Older adults and young children are at greater risk.

Dress in layers. Dress in layers that you can remove as soon as you start to sweat and then put back on as needed. First, put on a thin layer of synthetic material, such as polypropylene, which draws sweat away from your body. Avoid cotton, which stays wet next to your skin. Next add a layer of fleece or wool for insulation. Top this with a waterproof, breathable outer layer.