Keep up your outdoor workouts during winter, but play it smart

Credit: Brian Bahr/Allsport
The arrival of winter doesn't mean you have to curtail your outdoor exercise.

You can keep running and walking outside during cold weather, said Dr. Fred Weil, a sports medicine podiatrist. A few simple precautions will help you stay safe and warm.

"Believe it or not, but by wearing a hat, you can keep your feet warm," Weil said.

"A hat helps preserve your body's core temperature. Over 30 percent of the body's heat is lost through the head. When you wear a hat, less heat is lost and more blood can circulate to your feet, keeping them warmer. This helps to counteract the cold that penetrates from the bottom of our shoes."

Following are some more of Weil's recommendations:

  • Consider getting shoe inserts that are made to ward off cold feet. But be sure the inserts don't make the shoes too tight.

  • Plan your route so you go into the wind on the way out and have it at your back on the way home. This way, the tough part will be over and you won't get so tired or cold from your sweat cooling.

  • If you haven't been exercising outdoors, do it for short periods until you become acclimated. Then gradually build the time outside.

  • Wear shoes that have some type of gripping or "waffle" pattern on the bottom. Avoid icy patches and take smaller strides where the footing is questionable.

  • Wear a few layers of loose-fitting clothes. You don't need to overdress, because as you work out, your body temperature is raised. The layers trap the heat and act as an insulator. If you get too warm, take off a layer and tie it around your waist. Wear underwear made of the newer synthetic material that wicks moisture away from you body.

  • Wear sunglasses and use sunscreen. Vaseline is a good skin protector for exposed facial areas.

  • In milder weather, use garden-type canvas gloves or glove liners made of polypropylene or similar type material. Mittens are better for the colder weather, and use glove liners with the mittens in extreme cold.

    Weil, who is a 14-time marathoner, practices what he preaches. During the cold months, he runs outdoors, cross-country skis and even goes snowshoeing.

    Don't let the cold weather hold you back. Just get out and do it! You may find it exhilarating.

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