5 tips for safe winter exercise

Winter is upon us. But, that's no reason to throw out your exercise routine and go into hibernation.

Despite cold temperatures, outdoor activities offer an enjoyable way to stay fit and boost your health. Whether you're running or walking, shoveling snow or building a snowman, these activities burn calories and improve body condition. Just keep in mind a few safety precautions. Here are five tips for keeping your heart rate up when the temperature drops:

  1. New to working out or exercising outdoors? Consult a physician before starting, especially if you suffer from cardiovascular or respiratory conditions. Cold air can trigger lung problems like asthma, while increased heart rate and body temperature can be dangerous for people with cardiac issues.

 

  1. Staying warm without drowning in sweat once your body heats up can be a challenge. Wear three removable layers -- an item made of moisture-wicking material to draw sweat away from skin; an insulation layer such as lightweight fleece; and a waterproof, wind-resistant layer to stave off the elements.

 

  1. Protect hands, feet and ears; things exposed to the wind. They're the furthest away from our core, so they tend to get cold quickly. If they're not protected from wind chill, we're at risk for frost bite. The head is especially important to cover since that's where we lose most of our body heat.

 

  1. Winter's shorter days mean that outdoor exercisers often find themselves in the dark. It's important to wear light, reflective colors and a reflective safety vest or tape, available at sporting goods stores.

 

  1. Ice and snow can be hazardous if your shoes aren't up to the challenge. Be sure to wear shoes with plenty of tread.

 

Winter specifics aside, take the normal precautions you would during other times of the year, like staying hydrated and wearing sunscreen. And, if the temperature is unbearably cold, limit your time outside.

By: Denise Augsburger, an exercise physiologist with OhioHealth WorkHealth.