Exercising Outside? Keep These Safety Tips in Mind During Cold Temps
While this winter has been mild in comparison to past seasons, Michigan winter months are often long, cold and the frigid temperatures can discourage even the most motivated exercisers. Yet, whether exercising outside, playing your favorite winter sport, or taking time to build a snowman, it is important to follow some cold weather precautions.
MidMichigan Health offers these safety reminders when heading out into the cold temperatures:
- Protect the head, hands, feet and ears. It is important to watch weather forecasts and look at the wind chill factors prior to heading outdoors. Wind chill levels below -18 can cause frostbite to exposed areas of skin in 30 minutes or less.
- Dress in layers. One of the biggest mistakes when exercising in cold weather is dressing too warmly. Layers should be removed as soon as sweating begins and should be put back on as needed. The bottom layer should be a thin synthetic material that will draw moisture away from the body. Avoid cotton because it will hold the moisture next to the skin. The next layer should be a fleece or wool for insulation. On top, a waterproof layer should be worn.
- Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can occur just as easily during the winter as it can in the summer. Drink water before, during and after a workout.
- Avoid injury. Sometimes the winter months can cause slippery conditions and shorter days may result in exercising in the dark. Reflective clothing should be worn if there is a chance it will get dark during the workout time. In addition, choose footwear with enough traction to prevent falls.
- Don’t forget the sunscreen. It is just as easy to get sunburn in the winter as it is the summer. Wear sunscreen to prevent sunburns if exercise is being done in the snow or at high altitudes.
Exercise is safe for almost everyone, even in cold weather. Individuals who have conditions such as asthma, heart problems or Raynaud’s disease should check with their health care provider first to review special precautions they should take.