For many people, the onslaught of cold winter weather is a sufficient reason to put the brakes on a regular outdoor exercise program. However, this does not need to be the case, as exercising in colder weather can be just as enjoyable as warm-weather exercise when you wear the correct clothing and take protective measures.
One common mistake made by winter exercisers is they start out with too many clothes. When you step outside the house, you should feel chilled. If you don’t feel somewhat cold, you are likely to be wearing too many clothes and will quickly become too warm when you begin moving. Starting out with three of four layers of thinner clothes rather than one or two items of thick clothing makes it easier to make adjustments should you become overheated.
Protecting your extremities with a hat and gloves is important when exercising in colder weather, as up to 50 percent of body heat can be lost through the head. A hat that covers the ears is recommended, as cold winds can cause severe earache for some. Gloves should also be worn to keep your fingers warm; and they will protect your hands if you were to slip on ice. If you notice your fingers have become very pale and feel numb, it is advisable to return indoors as soon as possible. Numbness in the fingers, toes or face may be a sign of frostbite; if the numbness continues after returning home seek medical attention.
Before leaving the house check your local weather forecast. If heavy snow or very strong winds are forecast, it is advisable to remain indoors. Wind draws heat away from the body and may make it impossible for you to remain warm. If you find you have become very cold, seek help, as hyperthermia is a dangerous condition that may occur when the body has become too cold.
It’s always a good idea to carry a cell phone with you when running or walking in case of sudden illness or a fall. However, with the added elements of winter such as freezing temperatures and slippery ice it’s especially important to be able to reach someone should you need emergency assistance.
By following these simple tips, you should be able to continue your outdoor exercise routine for the main part of the winter months. If the forecast is questionable, or the sidewalks are covered in hazardous ice, take your outdoor clothes off and either enjoy a lazy day or have a session on the stationary bike.