Prepping for Cold Weather Workouts

Safely exercise in cold weather.

Winter weather is right around the corner. In fact, in some parts of the country, it’s already here! Just because the temperature is cold or there’s snow on the ground doesn’t mean you have to bring your workout indoors every day. Cold weather workouts provide great benefits, and can be fun, too. When you exercise outside in cold temperatures, your body actually burns more calories and fat, due to the way your body has to work harder to overcome the cold. Plus, you can change up your workout by tieing on some ice skates, putting on your cross country or downhill skis, trying out those snowshoes, or simply lacing up some winter hiking boots. But before you do, make sure your workout is safe by reviewing some winter workout safety tips.

Colder temperatures bring some new safety considerations that mean taking a few extra minutes to prep before you head out the door. First, make sure you dress for the weather. Experts say it is safe to exercise outside at temperatures of 20 degrees, with up to a 30 mph wind. In order to stay warm enough, it may seem like a smart idea to wear your heavy coat, but it is actually better to wear several thinner layers that you can remove as needed. Make sure you have the proper footwear, too…a sturdy shoe or boot with good treads, depending on the exercise you plan to do.

Heading out into the elements can be exhilarating and fun, or terrifying and life-threatening if you get lost or are out when the temperature is extremely cold and either windy or raining. In order to make sure you get home safely, first of all make sure you have a cell phone with you that is properly charged. Stay close to home or in areas where you know your way around, that way you already know the route home, or can get there quickly if you are too cold. Keep a friend or family member informed of your whereabouts and how long you plan to stay out, too. This way if you are out longer than you said you would be, you can easily be found.

Although they will hopefully be something you never have to worry about, be sure to recognize the signs of two winter maladies: frostbite and hypothermia. Wearing layers and removing wet clothing immediately will help ensure you don’t end up with either, but be on the lookout for the symptoms of each.

Frostbite:

  • Numbness
  • Loss of feeling
  • Stinging

Hypothermia:

  • Drowsiness
  • Weakness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Pale/cold skin
  • Confusion
  • Shivering
  • Slowed breathing or heart rate

If you notice any of the symptoms of either frostbite or hypothermia, get back indoors and warm up, then seek medical attention if necessary. In any case, taking a few extra precautions beforehand will help ensure that you can enjoy all the health benefits a winter outdoor workout offers!

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