6 Cold Weather Exercise Tips

General Steward Health Care

It is important to be aware of increased risks associated with outdoor exercise in colder temperatures. With advance planning and smart decision-making, it is safe for most people to continue their outdoor routines in the winter. Check with your doctor if you have a heart problem, Raynaud’s disease, or asthma/lung disease to make sure it is safe for you.

  1. Dress in layers! Start with a base layer made of synthetic material that wicks sweat away from your body.  Add an insulating middle layer, such as fleece or wool. Top with a waterproof but breathable outer layer.
  2. Recognize Frostbite. Frostbite is most common on exposed skin, such as the ears and nose, and can also occur on the hands and feet. Symptoms include numbness and a stinging sensation. Gently warm the affected area(s), and seek emergency care if symptoms do not improve.
  3. Recognize Hypothermia. Hypothermia is the term for low body temperature (less than 95 degrees Fahrenheit). Symptoms include shivering, fatigue, loss of coordination, and slurred speech, and can occur with prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. Seek emergency care if you recognize these symptoms in yourself or a loved one.
  4. Check the forecast!  Although actual air temperature is important, other factors such as wind chill and precipitation can make a big difference when you are exercising.  At a wind chill of -18 degrees Fahrenheit, frostbite can occur in 30 minutes! In extreme temperatures, consider taking your workout indoors.
  5. Drink water!  It can be harder to recognize dehydration in cold weather, but fluid loss from sweat and breathing still occurs. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise, just as you would during the summer.
  6. Wear sunscreen. Even though the sun doesn’t feel as warm, it is still relatively easy to get sunburned in the winter.  Slather the sunscreen on any exposed skin.  Choose a lip balm with protection, and consider using goggles or sunglasses to protect your eyes.

To find a doctor or schedule an appointment visit Steward DoctorFinder™ or call 1-800-488-5959.