Get the Most From Your Cold Weather Workouts

Exercising in the winter can be exhilarating! Clean, crisp air, the beauty of a fresh snowfall and even brilliant sunshine, on occasion, can improve your mood and add variety to your winter workouts. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) says it’s fine to exercise in the cold as long as you take certain precautions to avoid hypothermia and frost bite. Follow these tips from the ACE to get the most from your cold weather workouts.

Dress in layers
• The first layer that’s directly touching your skin should be a lightweight synthetic or polyester material. It will dry quickly and wick away moisture.
• The second layer should be wool or polyester fleece.
• The outermost layer -- worn in the rain, snow, or wind -- should be lighter weight and water-repellent to help you stay dry.
• Avoid heavy cotton materials. Cotton soaks up perspiration and will make you wetter and colder. Stick with Smartwool, synthetic, and polyester fabrics, mentioned above.

Exercising in cold weatherProtect your face head and extremities
• Wear a hat- Wearing a hat will help your body retain heat. About 50 percent of body heat is lost from an uncovered head when the temperatures hit the freezing mark.
• Keeping hands and feet warm is key in the cold temperatures since your body will shunt blood away from extremities to keep your internal organs warm. Gloves will help prevent skin damage and frostbite in sub-zero temperatures. To keep your feet warm, make sure your torso is properly insulated. That will drive blood back down to your lower extremities.

Check the air temperature and wind chill factor before exercising in the cold.
• The US National Safety Council says there’s little risk when exercising in 20° Fahrenheit, even with 30 miles per hour winds.
• But danger exists when the combined temperature and wind chill falls below -20°F and frostbite can occur on exposed skin in 30 minutes or less.

Know the signs of hypothermia and frostbite.
• Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature falls below 95 degrees; symptoms can include confusion and uncontrollable shivering.
• Frostbite occurs when circulation is restricted in the extremities (fingers, toes, ears, and nose); symptoms can include feeling numb or turning white or blue. Pay attention to your body when you exercise outdoors and watch for these symptoms.

Be aware of snow, ice, sleet, or heavy rain.
• If there is snow, ice, or excessive water on the ground, pay attention to your footing to avoid accidents.
• Ice creates a much greater danger of a slip-and-fall, which can send you to the hospital with a broken bone.
Remember to stay hydrated.
• In cold weather, it’s easy—and unsafe—to overlook your fluid needs. Your body is still sweating, so replenish your fluids appropriately.

Tags: Winter, Exercise, Nutrition,