Cold Weather Fitness Tips


Cold, icy and snowy weather can undermine even the most determined exerciser.

Let’s face it. Mornings are dark and freezing — the ultimate temptation to skip the 5 a.m. spin class and stay snuggled under the covers.

It’s often too hazardous, and even dangerous, to run or walk outdoors. Who wants to risk icy conditions, all the while fearing a broken ankle or worse?

And if you have certain conditions, such as asthma or a heart condition, check with your doctor first to review any special precautions you need based on your condition or your medications.

What to do?

  • Check the forecast before heading outside. Often your local all-news radio station or TV weather forecast will give the wind chill. At wind chill levels below minus 18 F (minus 28 C), frostbite can occur on exposed skin in 30 minutes or less.

If that’s the case, you can get an excellent workout indoors — even in your living room. Just grab a pair of weights and follow along to any of a plethora of free online exercise routines, whether by Bowflex, on Facebook or through Google searches.

  • This one is counterintuitive. Dressing too warmly is a big mistake when exercising in cold weather. Exercise generates a considerable amount of heat — enough to make you feel like it’s much warmer than it really is. The evaporation of sweat, however, pulls heat from your body and you feel chilled.
  • 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.
  • Wear a thin pair of glove liners made of a wicking material (such as polypropylene) under a pair of heavier gloves or mittens lined with wool or fleece.
  • Consider buying exercise shoes a half size or one size larger than you usually wear so you can fit in thick thermal socks or an extra pair of regular socks. And don’t forget a hat to keep body heat from escaping.
  • If it’s dark when you exercise outside, wear reflective clothing. And wear a helmet while skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.
  • Remember eye and skin safety. Wear a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and a lip balm with sunscreen. Protect your eyes from snow and ice glare with dark glasses or goggles.

And finally, remember to drink water or a sports drink before, during and after your workout. Just like summer weather, the cold can be just as dehydrating because you’re still sweating and the wind dries your skin, eyes and your body.

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