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.
Frigid temperatures can discourage even the most motivated exercisers. Without motivation, it’s easy to pack away your workout gear for the winter. But you don’t have to let cold weather spell the end of your fitness routine. Try these tips for exercising during cold weather to stay fit, motivated and warm.
Stay safe during cold-weather exercise
Exercise is safe for almost everyone, even in cold weather. But if you have certain conditions, such as asthma, heart problems or Raynaud’s disease, check with your doctor first to review any special precautions you need based on your condition or your medications.
The following tips can help you stay safe — and warm — while exercising in the cold.
Check weather conditions and wind chill
Check the forecast before heading outside. Temperature, wind and moisture, along with the length of time that you’ll be outside, are key factors in planning a safe cold-weather workout.
Wind and cold together make up the wind chill, a common element in winter weather forecasts. Wind chill extremes can make exercising outdoors unsafe even with warm clothing.
The wind can penetrate your clothes and remove the insulating layer of warm air that surrounds your body. Any exposed skin is vulnerable to frostbite.
The risk of frostbite is less than 5% when the air temperature is above 5 F (minus 15 C), but the risk rises as the wind chill falls. At wind chill levels below minus 18 F (minus 28 C), frostbite can occur on exposed skin in 30 minutes or less.
If the temperature dips below zero F (minus 18 C) or the wind chill is extreme, consider taking a break or choosing an indoor exercise instead. Consider putting off your workout if it’s raining or snowing unless you have waterproof gear.
Getting wet makes you more vulnerable to the cold. And if you get soaked, you may not be able to keep your core body temperature high enough.