Exercising in the Cold

The weather is getting colder, but with some careful planning you can keep your exercise routine outdoors. A main concern for exercising in the cold is hypothermia, or too much heat loss. Heat loss is controlled in two ways: insulation (body fat plus clothing) and environmental factors.

Clothing is an insulation barrier and is the most important element for exercising in cold weather. You can lose 50 percent body heat from the head alone, so simply wearing a hat can help keep the body insulated. You also want to wear clothing in layers. The base layer (the one closest to your skin) should consist of some type of moisture wicking material. Most moisture wicking products will be labeled as such. The wicking material will help the moisture pass through, away from your body. Wearing a cotton t-shirt next to your skin will hold the moisture in and cause you to be cold. The next layer should be some type of fleece material followed by a weather proof jacket. It is important not to wear heavy cotton sweats or tightly woven material that will absorb and retain water. Keeping your hands and feet warm is vital when exercising in the cold. Make sure to wear gloves and warm socks and footwear.

Don’t forget to check with the weatherman before heading outdoors - both the temperature and the wind chill factor. A danger does exist if any skin is exposed at -20 degrees Fahrenheit with or without the wind chill factor. These tips will help your outdoor routine stay delightful, even when the weather turns frightful.