Because of our busy schedules, it’s hard enough to maintain a workout schedule during the warmer months when it’s as easy as stepping out the door for a quick walk, so it may seem like a daunting task when the weather turns cold. Use this information to stay safe while working outside in the cold weather, and you will see how simple it is to maintain your workout in the fall and winter.
If you do not already participate in an exercise program, don’t be discouraged from starting one as the weather cools; it will help you beat those winter blues and improve your overall health. Mayoclinic.com reports “moderate exercisers get 20 to 30 percent fewer colds than nonexercisers do.”
Although experts generally agree that nearly all people can exercise safely outside in the cold, you should talk to your doctor if you have any particular concerns about a medical condition. You should also discuss your plans to begin an exercise program with your doctor if this is your first time exercising in a while.
Making sure you have the correct gear is the first step toward ensuring your safety outdoors. Exercise can make you feel considerably warmer than it actually is, so make use of several layers while outdoors (avoid cotton as a base layer as it can stay wet next to your skin), then you can easily adjust to the perfect temperature.
Cold temperatures cause your body to send blood to your core, leaving your hands, feet and head more vulnerable. Try wearing thin runner’s gloves under larger mittens, double-layered socks and a hat to preserve heat in your extremities and protect against frostbite. If you start noticing loss of feeling, stinging/tingling sensations or paleness in fingers, toes or exposed skin, head indoors right away. Once inside, slowly warm the area until feeling returns. The Mayo Clinic cautions not to rub the affected area and to seek a doctor if feeling does not soon return. Disposable hand, foot and body warmers, available online and at sporting goods stores, can help prevent problems and keep you warm.
Some safety measures that you would never forget in the summer are more easily forgotten at this time of year. Drinking water before, during and after you exercise is one of the most critical factors in workout safety. You may not feel as thirsty in the cold, but dehydration can set in just as easily from sweating, increased metabolism and heavy breathing now as it can in warm weather. Sunscreen is another precaution that may be forgotten in the cold weather, so don’t let your diligence waiver.
Cold weather doesn’t have to stop you from continuing your outdoor workout routine. It can be just as safe, fun, energizing and beautiful to exercise outside in the winter as it is in the warmer months. The coming of snow gives you even more ways to get your cardio done outside with activities such as skiing and snowshoeing. So, this November, take your layers out of storage and hit the outdoors.