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How to Exercise in Cold Weather

So you’d rather be outside facing the elements than indoors pounding out miles on the treadmill or joining the golden-haired beauties at the mall for some power-walking, but you dread the thought of getting cold and wet. Don’t let the weather get you discouraged and prevent you from staying fit during the cold winter months. You don’t have to hibernate for the winter and pack on pounds, while boxing up all of your work-out gear and bidding goodbye until spring.

There are tips and strategies you can take to be able to exercise in the cold weather, stay fit and even warm all year round. When the weather gets chilly turn to these helpful exercise tips to get you through the cold weather spell.

Safety Comes First in Cold Weather
Safety should come first when exercising in cold or extreme weather conditions. Everyone has the opportunity to play it safe, but some choose to ignore the weather patterns or appropriate gear necessary to protect yourself. Taking precautions with regard to clothing, footwear and equipment is crucial in preventing injury or worse yet. It is equally important to listen to the weather station and learn about the current and future conditions that may affect your exercise routine. You don’t want to be stuck outside in a blizzard or ice storm.

Remember to Layer Up
Dressing too warmly for the outdoor weather can be detrimental to your exercise routine. It is important to layer up with comfortable clothes that can be easily shed if needed. If you dress too warmly, excessive sweating can occur which causes the body to chill. To prevent this from occurring, choose thin layers of synthetic materials that draw sweat away from the body. Polypropylene is a wise choice as the first layer of clothing. The outside layer should be made of waterproof yet breathable material to protect you from the immediate elements.

Protect Your Core AND Extremities
While you may be inclined to bundle up your mid-region, your hands and feet may be overlooked. Don’t forget the gloves and waterproof shoes to prevent against frostbite and hypothermia. Wearing a hat or face mask can protect those frostbite sensitive regions, such as ears, cheeks and nose.

Gear up the Right Way
It is crucial to know the weather first and gear up the right way for it. If you are planning to exercise in the dark or evening hours, wear reflective gear that draws attention to yourself – especially if jogging on the roadways. While skiing, wear a helmet and goggles to protect you in the event of a fall. Footwear is important to prevent against falls as well, especially if the roadway is icy or snowy.

Don’t Forget the Sunscreen
Contrary to what some may think, it is just as easy to get sunburned in the winter as it is the summer. If you are exercising outdoors in high altitudes or in the snow, it can be even easier to get sunburned. Lip balm with SPF properties, a sun lotion that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and even goggles are crucial for exercising outdoors in the wintry elements. Dark glasses or ski goggles are necessary for protecting your eyes from the glare from snow and ice. Sunscreen should contain and SPF of 30 or more to be effective.

Stay Hydrated
Most people avoid drinking a glass of cold water in the winter, but if you are planning to exercise out in the elements it is important to stay hydrated. Drink a glass of water prior to starting, even if you are not thirsty. You can become just as dehydrated in cold weather as you can in hot weather due to sweating. Your increased breathing and urine production may also cause you to become dehydrated.

Recognize Signs of Frostbite
Exposed skin is prone to frostbite during the winter months, especially if wind and chill factor are a factor. Frostbite is common on cheeks, nose, ears and even hands. Recognizing the early signs of frostbite is helpful in preventing getting worse. Stinging sensations, numbness or tingling are all early signs of frostbite in the affected areas. If you suspect frostbite, get out of the cold weather and slowly warm the affected areas without rubbing the skin.

Utilizing these tips can help you to enjoy the winter months without packing on weight. You don’t have to feel trapped in a gym, but can still enjoy the great outdoors by exercising wisely and being prepared.

Suzanne Somers

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