As the chill of winter arrives on Sunday, it’s important for you to take extra precaution when exercising in cold weather. Here are some winter workout tips:
- Check the thermometer. Check the air temperature and wind chill factor before you leave your home. If you’re properly dressed, it’s safe to exercise if the temperature is as low as 20 degrees, even with a 30 mph wind. Danger to exposed skin occurs when the wind chill factor falls below minus 18 degrees.
- Dress in layers. Wear fewer, thinner layers of clothing you can peel off, rather than one single, heavy layer. Choose breathable fabrics to avoid sweat buildup that makes you feel colder.
- Protect your skin. Drink plenty of water (eight 8-ounce glasses a day). Apply a thick moisturizing cream before you get dressed and step outside. Use lip balm with sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) before, during and after your workout. Protect your face, nose, ears and lips from sunburn by using a sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher).
- Start slowly. When exercising in colder temperatures, you’re at increased risk for sprains and strains. Until you’ve mastered cold-weather fitness, start your workout at half your usual warm-weather distance. If you normally run four miles, start with two. Warm up indoors for five minutes before heading out. Be sure to cool down, too. Going straight from strenuous exercise to standing around creates stress on your heart.
- Don’t ignore cold-weather warning signs. Symptoms of frostbite include numbness, loss of feeling or a stinging sensation. If you suspect frostbite, get out of the cold immediately and slowly warm the affected area.
- Work out later. Even if you thrive on early-morning workouts, on extremely cold days consider exercising later in the day, when temperatures are generally higher. Or take your workout indoors.
- Check with your doctor. If you’re new to exercise, prone to breathing difficulties or exercise-induced asthma, talk to your doctor before starting.