When it’s cold outside, exercising outdoors may seem like a last-resort choice. With the proper equipment and attitude, however, outdoor exercise in the wintertime can be a fun option. One of the best parts about exercising in the cold is that you often get streets, sidewalks and trails to yourself! Although slippery surfaces may make safety a concern, our orthopedic surgeons recommend taking the following precautions for winter exercise.

Dress Properly for the Weather

Proper clothing makes the difference between an enjoyable winter workout and a miserable frostbitten slog through the snow. When it comes to winter exercise, the key is to layer up. Wear a lightweight synthetic or polyester base layer. Unlike cotton, these materials wick moisture away from your skin. This is critical for feeling warm enough while exercising. Plus, synthetics and polyester tend to dry more quickly than alternative fabrics.exercising in cold weather

Next, add a fleece or wool layer. This is important for adding warmth and retaining body heat. Finally, top your look with a windproof and waterproof outer layer. This might include a lightweight jacket as well as pants if necessary. This prevents snow or sleet from interrupting your workout.

Don’t Forget the Hat and Gloves

An astonishing 50 percent of body heat is lost through the scalp during freezing weather. Wearing a hat is the best way to reclaim some of this heat and keep yourself warm. Opt for a lightweight cotton or wool hat that covers your ears. When trying on hats, shake your head back and forth to ensure it won’t become dislodged during vigorous exercise.

Gloves are also critical for successful winter exercise. Invest in a pair of lightweight, waterproof gloves to wear when you leave the house.

Set a Lower Temperature Limit

Exercising during the winter months can be invigorating, but at a certain temperature, you may feel too uncomfortable to enjoy your workout. The U.S. National Safety Council states that there is little risk to exercising in 20-degree Fahrenheit weather. If the windchill drops below 20 degrees, however, it might be time to stay home.

Know the Signs of Hypothermia

Hypothermia or frostbite may occur in extremely cold conditions. Frostbite symptoms include numbness, stinging feelings or loss of sensation on the skin. Hypothermia is also a risk when exercising in the cold. Monitor yourself for shivering, loss of coordination, severe fatigue or slurred speech.

If you’re concerned about exercise-related injuries in cold weather, contact our Jacksonville orthopedic specialists today. Our sports medicine experts have great tips on how to make cold weather exercise both enjoyable and safe.

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