Dressing in layers, protecting your hands and feet, and paying attention to the forecast can help you stay safe and warm while exercising outdoors in cold weather.
Cold weather can discourage even the most motivated exercisers. And if you’re not so motivated, it’s all too easy to pack away your workout gear along with your warm-weather clothing.
You don’t have to let cold weather spell the end of your exercise. You can stay fit, motivated and warm when the weather turns chilly.
Stay safe during cold-weather exercise
Almost everyone can exercise safely during cold weather. But if you have certain conditions, such as asthma or heart problems , check with your doctor before you work out in cold weather. Your doctor can review any special precautions you need based on your condition or medications you might take.
Dress in layers
One of the biggest mistakes you can make while exercising in cold weather is to dress too warmly. Exercise generates a considerable amount of heat — enough to make you feel like it’s much warmer than it really is. Yet, once your sweat starts to dry, you can get chilled.
Dress in layers that you can remove as soon as you start to sweat and then put back on as needed. First, put on a thin layer of synthetic material, such as polypropylene, which draws sweat away from your body. Avoid cotton, which stays wet next to your skin. Next, add a layer of fleece or wool for insulation. Top this with a waterproof, breathable outer layer. A heavy down jacket or vest may cause you to overheat if you’re exercising hard. If you’re lean, you may need more insulation than someone who is heavier.
Keep in mind, too, that stop-and-go activities, such as mixing walking with running, can make you more vulnerable to the cold if you repeatedly work up a sweat and then get chilly.
Protect your hands, feet and ears
Try wearing a thin pair of gloves under a pair of heavier gloves or mittens lined with wool or fleece. Don the mittens or gloves before your hands become cold and then remove them if your hands begin to sweat.
Considering buying exercise shoes a half-size or one size larger than usual to allow for thick thermal socks or an extra pair of regular socks. And don’t forget a hat or headband to protect your ears.
Pay attention to weather conditions and wind chill
Wind chill extremes can make exercising outdoors unsafe even if you dress warmly. The wind can penetrate your clothes and remove the insulating layer of warm air that surrounds your body.
Choose appropriate gear
If it’s dark when you exercise outside, wear reflective clothing. To stay steady on your feet, choose footwear with enough traction to prevent falls.