When it comes to winter exercising, don't get left out in the cold

Credit: Tim DeFrisco/Allsport
Just because it's winter doesn't mean you stop working out altogether. When you're running, walking or riding outside during chilly weather, protect yourself against cold-induced injury such as frostbite, hypothermia, and chilblain (red, itchy skin) with the following recommendations:

  • Consider your activity ? the faster you move, the more wind you generate. If the existing wind chill index is very low (less than minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit), avoid cycling or skiing, which lower the wind chill index more than running.

  • Dress appropriately. If you're warm as you head out the door, you're probably overdressed. You should feel chilly at first but fairly comfortable after two to five minutes of exercise.

  • Layer your clothing. The fabrics closest to your skin should draw sweat away from your body, so choose polypropylene, wool, or acrylic blends. Pile on wool or fleece garments for a warming second layer. And complete the ensemble with a breathable wind- and water-repellent outer layer such as Gore-Tex or microsupplex.

  • Wear a hat ? you can lose more than 40 percent of your body heat through your head ? and keep your hands, feet, and face protected. Men should wear underwear or a jockstrap and several layers of clothing to avoid ? yow! ? penile frostbite.

  • Exercise if possible at midday (the warmest part of the day). And head into the wind on your way out, so that you can return with the wind at your back. This way you'll avoid becoming overly chilled as you grow tired and slow down.

  • Hydrate properly to replenish lost fluids.

  • Allow your body time to acclimatize to the cold. As your body grows accustomed to colder temperatures, it will retain heat more effectively.

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