Just because the weather outside is starting to veer towards the chillier side doesn’t always mean you have to abandon your usual exercise routine. Exercising outdoors has a host of benefits such as increased levels of vitamin D and no associated gym membership costs. Never begin an outdoor exercise in extreme cold weather. You should always gradually give your body and physiology the time to adjust to the cold. Intense exercise in extreme cold weather — low 20s or teens and lower — can cause serious cardiac problems including death.
If you’re interested in exercising outside despite the dropping temperatures, however, there are a few things you should know in order to stay safe and comfortable. These top tips on exercising outside during the winter will help you enjoy your outdoor workout no matter how low the temperatures drop. Late winter and early spring is a good time to catch some clearance deals on winter sports clothing and accessories.
Learn How To Dress for the Weather
One of the most important things to know when exercising outside during the winter is how to dress for the weather. Making the wrong outfit choice could cause you to wind up uncomfortably hot or cold and pose a potential safety risk. While you want to avoid wearing too many layers that will cause you to sweat excessively, it’s important not to wear too few layers that your body temperature drops too low.
Make sure to at least wear a base layer made from moisture-wicking material and, depending on the weather, add a second layer of insulation and a third to block the wind. You should also make sure to wear gloves, a hat, and some warm socks as your extremities are at the highest risk for frostbite.
Make Sure Your Shoes Have Ample Traction
In addition to wearing an appropriate number of layers and covering your extremities, you should also carefully consider what footwear to choose. During the winter, surfaces can become slick with ice, snow, and slush.
To avoid slipping and hurting yourself during your exercise, make sure to wear shoes that have ample traction. If the tread on your current shoes has become worn down on the bottom, consider investing in a new pair. You may even consider installing ice spikes to the bottom of your shoes if you plan on walking or running on particularly snowy or icy trails.
Even shoes with the best traction might not help on “black ice.” Be especially aware in situations where surfaces are extra slippery — such as when there is a slight snow dusting on smooth ice, or when melting and freezing situations create a thin layer of water on ice or very smooth, slippery ice — very common in late winter or early spring.
Recognize the Early Signs of Frostbite and Hypothermia
When exercising outside during the winter, it’s important to recognize the difference between being a little cold or uncomfortable and experiencing frostbite or hypothermia. Familiarizing yourself with the early signs of frostbite and hypothermia will help you know when to head back inside and get warm before further damage occurs.
During the early stages of frostbite, you will likely experience a pins-and-needles, aching, or throbbing feeling in the area—most frequently your hands, feet, or ears. The skin may also begin to turn white and feel numb. Also, beware of hypothermia. Know the early signs of hypothermia generally include intense shivering, drowsiness, loss of coordination, confusion, slurred speech, and exhaustion.