Health Living Well

Exercising Outdoors in the Cold: What You Need to Know

Even though it’s cold outside, your body still needs just as much exercise as it does in the warm months of the summer. Instead of curling up on the couch all winter long, your body will thank you for keeping lean and strong! While indoor exercise is always an option, so is exercising outdoors! Don’t be be afraid of the cold! 

There are many options out there for you, but before you exercise outside, make sure you review what you need to know first:

Dress Appropriately

When exercising outside, you need to dress in layers. As you may know, at the beginning of your workout, you’ll probably be quite cold. However, as you exercise you’ll warm up quite a bit. Dress in layers that cover your limbs and extremities (such as your nose, ears, hands, etc.) and dress warmly enough to stay warm at first but cool enough to prevent overheating.

Check the Temperature and the Wind Chill

Before you go outside, you may know to check the temperature, but be aware that the windchill may drastically change how cold it feels to the human body.

Know the Danger Signs

No matter how long you are planning to be outside, you do need to be aware of the warning signs of hypothermia and frostbite. These may come on very quickly and you need to address them immediately.

Frostbite is skin that has frozen due to exposure. The most common areas affected by frostbite are the cheeks, nose, ears, hands and feet. If you begin to feel numbness, loss of feeling, or a stinging sensation, seek warmth immediately, but be aware that you will not be able to feel heat properly and warming too quickly can result in burns. If your skin doesn’t return to normal immediately, seek emergency care.

Hypothermia is a condition that occurs when the body drops to a dangerously low temperature. This is perhaps the greatest danger when exercising outside, and older adults and children are particularly at risk. If you begin intensely shivering, losing feeling in your arms or legs, slurring your speech, or have difficulty controlling normal bodily functions (such as walking, breathing, remaining alert, etc.), you need to seek emergency care immediately.


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