Exercising in Cold Weather

It’s getting pretty darn cold out there, but it doesn’t mean you have to do all of your exercise inside!

Unless you have a medical condition, like exercise-induced asthma or blood circulation and heart issues, research has found that it is perfectly fine to exercise outside when it’s cold…if you take some precautions.

Check the Weather First

If there is a negative windchill or it’s wet out, be careful. Both of these factors can increase your susceptibility to frostbite.

Wind chills below -18F can cause frostbite on exposed skin in 30 minutes or less! Unless you have warm, waterproof clothing, getting wet during your workout can make it hard for your body to maintain its core temperature.

Know the Danger Signs

Anyone who wants to exercise outside in the winter needs to be aware of the danger signs of frostbite and hypothermia. You’ll be able to recognize the beginning of frostbite if you feel numbness followed by tingling or burning.

Get inside immediately and treat the area by running it under lukewarm water. If the numbness and tingling continue, seek medical attention.

Hypothermia is a serious medical emergency. This is an abnormally low body temperature. Danger signs include: intense shivering, slurred speech, loss of coordination, and fatigue. Get to the hospital immediately if you experience these symptoms.

Get and Stay Hydrated

Winter weather is extremely drying to begin with, and mixed with indoor heating, you already need more fluids than other seasons before you even start your workout.

Be sure that you’re drinking water throughout the day before you exercise. Rehydrate when you get back inside.

Dress for Cold Weather Success

Dress in layers to be prepared for cold temperatures and any adjustments you want to make as you heat up.

We recommend that you layer in a specific way, with a moisture-wicking layer closest to your skin, then a layer of fleece or wool to keep heat in, and finally, a waterproof, breathable outer layer.

Be sure that you’re protecting your head, hands, feet, and ears. These are common body parts for frostbite. Experiment and dress intuitively depending on the type of exercise and temperature.

You don’t want to overdress and be hot, since that makes you moist and that makes you susceptible to hypothermia.

Don't Forget Sunscreen and Sunglasses

The sun may be weaker in the winter, but it still has harmful rays – especially if they are reflecting off of snow. If you’re exercising when the sun’s out, be mindful of this.