How to stay warm (and safe) while exercising in cold weather
This week has been a doozy! Much of the country saw snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures, and rumor has it another round is on the way. For some of us, that means chilling by the fireplace with a warm significant other. But for those of us who still want to get our workout on, sleet and slush aren’t insurmountable obstacles. Just follow these tips so you don’t slip on an icy patch or get a nasty bit of frostbite or exercise-induced asthma.
- Layers are your friends. When it’s cold, your body diverts blood away from your fingers and toes and directs it to your core. This can open you up to frostbite. The solution? Layers. Start with clothing made of moisture-wicking material and cover with warmer layers. Your outer layer should be a waterproof jacket to protect you from elements like snow. Avoid cotton (it holds moisture from perspiration), and wear gloves and a hat. As your body heats up from activity, you can take off layers.
- Sunscreen is still a must. Cover all exposed skin, including your lips.
- Protect your eyes. Winter sun can be a beast, especially when it bounces off snow on the ground. Wear shades.
- Treat your lungs gently. Breathing in cold air while exercising can cause airway constriction, which can cause shortness of breath or a full-blown exercise-induced asthma attack. Throw a scarf around your nose and mouth to trap moist air.
- Stay hydrated. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, drink water before and after your workout.
- Choose a clean, dry path. Are you a ride-or-die runner? Keep striding. But check for icy patches and adjust your speed as necessary to avoid falling, which could result in an injury. Steer clear of puddles, too. Wet socks and shoes can contribute to frostbite.
- Monitor your body. If you start shivering, your body is saying your core temperature has dropped below a comfortable level. Kick up the intensity of your workout to create additional body heat.
- Check the forecast. We know you’re trying to stay on track for that half-marathon in April, but exercising in whiteout blizzard conditions or 30-degree temps is crazy—and unsafe. Take your workout indoors.
- Always tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll return.