During the winter months, many people balk "it's too cold out to exercise." But outdoor winter workouts can be safe and comfortable. In fact, for competitive athletes, it might even give you an advantage. Unlike working out in the heat, exercising in the cold won't impact your performance, unless you expend energy by shivering. Check with your doctor about working out outside if you have problems with your circulation, or any other health issues.
Dress for success
The secret to making a winter workout bearable is wearing the appropriate apparel. The right clothes can make the difference between a good exercise session and a dangerous one. Here are some things to keep in mind when you dress your body:
Use the indoors
Go inside often to warm up. And as soon as your workout ends, get inside and change out of your sweaty or wet clothing. Lingering in the cold after you're done exercising ups your risk for frostbite and hypothermia.
Be wary of cold-weather health threats
Dressing right for winter weather is a must to help keep frostbite and hypothermia at bay. But it's still important to know what warning signs to watch for. Both frostbite and hypothermia require immediate medical attention:
Call 9-1-1 for any of the following:
Seek emergency medical care for the following cold-related problems:
To rewarm an area that has frostnip or frostbite, follow these guidelines:
Call your doctor if the area does not get better after rewarming.
Don't forget to hydrate
Just because it's not hot and humid does not mean you can forget about hydrating. Dehydration is a concern during winter activity, too. You may not feel thirsty, but thirst is not a good indicator of hydration. And just because you don't notice sweat, it doesn't mean you aren't sweating. Sweat evaporates quickly in cool, dry air. Take in about one cup of water for every 15 minutes of exercise.
Is it ever "too cold" to exercise?
The "too cold" threshold varies from person to person. Someone who is used to exercising in chilly weather will fare much better than someone who's used to a warm climate.
When deciding if the weather is too cold for you, keep an eye on more than just the temperature. Precipitation and wind chill can make the outside air feel even colder than it is. Experts say being out in the cold is extremely dangerous when the temperature alone or temperature plus wind chill is minus 20 degrees F or below. But cold-weather health problems often occur at much warmer conditions, so take precautions. Do not re-expose a part of the body that has suffered a cold injury, because it is dangerous.
If the weather feels too cold to go outside for exercise, hit the gym or do a circuit workout in your own, warm living room. Circuit workouts typically involve exercises like jumping jacks, lunges, sit-ups, and push-ups. Always talk to your doctor before you start a new exercise routine.
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