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Don't Let the Cold Weather Keep You from Exercising

Health Articles |
Winter Exercise Couple

As winter temperatures plummet, making you want to hibernate and become one with your warm, cozy couch, resist the temptation. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t get a workout in. Through vigorous activity in fresh air, you can:

  • Increase your body’s endorphins (the feel-good hormones) to help ward off the winter blues (and blahs!)
  • Stay fit
  • Get a bone-boosting dose of Vitamin D from the sun’s rays.

Although stepping out in frigid temperatures can be intimidating, the good news is you can work out safely outdoors. All it takes is a little cold-weather know-how. After consulting with your physician to be sure it’s safe for you, especially if you have asthma or heart disease, follow these tips to keep moving despite the chill.

Check the Temps

First, when considering the actual temperature outside, as long as it’s above zero degrees Fahrenheit and the wind chill isn’t subzero, you’re safe to get out there. Start slowly to allow your body to adjust to the temperatures and remember to listen to your body.

Take a Layered Approach

When you move vigorously, your body generates excess heat causing you to sweat and when the sweat dries, it may make you colder. So if you’re committed to working out outside, it’s best to dress in layers to keep you warm and avoid everything from dehydration to hypothermia. Then as you warm up and start to sweat, remove a layer or layers. As your body starts to cool, put layers back on.

The bottom layer closest to your skin should consist of a thin layer of synthetic materials like nylon or polyester to protect you from hypothermia. Synthetic fibers draw moisture and sweat away from the body unlike cotton, which tends to trap it.

Then add another layer or two of wool or fleece for extra warmth. Your final top layer should be a water-repellent, wind-breaking shell to lock in the insulation.

Be Sure to Cover Up

While your body’s core should be snug following those guidelines, you also need to think about keeping warm the other parts of your body. Heat escapes from your head so protect it with a warm hat. Don’t forget to cover your extremities, which are quicker to freeze and prone to frostbite. Thick, thermal socks help protect your feet from the coldest temperatures. And when it comes to your hands, mittens tend to keep them warmer than gloves since the heat from fingers radiates to each other.

Cold air can result in the narrowing of the airways, making inhalation through your mouth more difficult. But covering your mouth with a scarf or gaiter can help warm the air making it moist and easier to breathe.

Keep Grounded

When thinking about how to dress for your workout, remember to pay attention to the road or path conditions. Winter workouts can be particularly slippery because of snow, ice or sleet. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes with good traction or opt for a pair of ice spikes to add to your shoes for extra stability in wintry conditions.

Remember to Hydrate

Drinking water is just as important during cold weather as it is during the heat. You’re still losing fluid during exercise, but dehydration may be harder to recognize in the cold. Make sure that you drink water or a sports drink before, during and after your workout.

On a daily basis, drinking about eight eight-ounce servings of water will keep you hydrated overall and can help prevent your skin from drying out, which tends to happen in frigid temperatures.

About Doylestown Health

Doylestown Health is a comprehensive healthcare system of inpatient, outpatient and wellness education services connected to meet the health needs of all members of the local and regional community. Doylestown Hospital, the flagship to Doylestown Health has 271 beds and a Medical Staff of more than 435 physicians in over 50 specialties. An independent nonprofit health system, Doylestown Health is dedicated to providing innovative, patient-centered care for all ages.

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