Tips to stay safe while exercising in the cold

It seems like Winter has finally decided to show up.  In NC, we are expecting freezing rain, sleet and snow for the next few days as is much of the east coast.  But just because it’s cold outside, doesn’t mean that you can’t exercise outdoors.  Just follow these tips and you will stay safe during your cold weather outdoor activities.

  1. Wear 3 layers of the appropriate types of clothing.  You want to choose clothes that traps the warm air in but still allow sweat to pass through.  A synthetic material, such as polypropylene, should be your base layer.  Avoid wearing cotton against your skin as it holds onto sweat and water.  The next layer should be a wool or fleece to keep you well insulated.  The last layer should be waterproof and breathable.
  2. Pay close attention to your head, hands and feet.  Since cold temperatures sends your blood to your internal organs to keep them warm, your feet and hands can get very cold.  Socks made from merino wool are not itchy and will provide a great deal of warmth to your feet.  Choose mittens over gloves (if possible) as they are better insulators.  Choose mittens with a nylon shell or wear glove liners underneath your mittens for an extra layer of warmth.  And around 50% of heat loss in cold weather comes from your head.  So wear a heavy synthetic hat with a scarf or neck wrap, or go for the knit face mask to keep your head, nose and ears protected.
  3. Start exercising into the wind.  This way halfway through when you have worked up a sweat, you can turn away from the wind and avoid the biting sting of the wind.
  4. Don’t forget to hydrate!  Even though it’s cold and you may not feel like you are sweating, you are.  So it’s important to replenish your fluids with water while exercising.
  5. Never exercise in cold weather with wet clothes.  Wet clothes will increase heat loss. If your clothes get wet, whether from sweat or the weather conditions, go home, remove your wet clothing, and change into something dry and cozy.
  6. Check the temperature before you go outside, and don’t forget the wind chill factor!  The National Safety Council advises not to exercise outdoors if the wind chill is negative 20 degrees or below.  But remember, if the temperature is below freezing you can develop frostbite – so be safe and covered before heading out.
  7. If in doubt, work out indoors.  Find an indoor track or treadmill, pop in an exercise DVD, or go to a local exercise class instead.

Happy Winter Workouts everyone!


One response to “Tips to stay safe while exercising in the cold

  1. Great advice! I’ve lived in Minnesota my whole life and these are some solid pieces of advice. #3 is especially a good idea. I’d also add a #8. Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to get back.


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