Top 5 Tips For Exercising in the Cold

How to stay safe when exercising in cold weather

The impending arrival of the fall and winter months doesn’t mean that outdoor activities should be abandoned. Whether you’re an athlete, an outdoor lover, or just need a cure for cabin fever, the Sports Medicine Team at ATI Physical Therapy has some simple tips to can keep you active (and safe) in the upcoming months.

  1. Dress in layers:  Dressing too warmly can be a mistake, as exercise generates heat, making you feel warmer than it really is.  Once sweat begins to dry, you can become chilled.  Dress in fabrics that wick moisture away from your skin. This will keep you warm and dry, and the layers will allow you to remove clothing, and put it back on as needed.
  2. Protect your hands, feet and ears: When it's cold, blood flow is concentrated on your body's core, leaving these areas vulnerable to frostbite. Plus, an uncovered head can release 50% of your body’s heat.
  3. Get the right shoes: Be sure your shoes provide extra traction for wet and slippery surfaces, and look for waterproof features that help keep your feet dry.
  4. Be seen: As the cold weather months approach, the amount of daylight dwindles. Be sure to dress in clothing that has reflective properties.
  5. Pay attention to weather conditions: Outside activity when it's cold and wet can make you more vulnerable to the temperature. If you get wet, you may not be able to keep your core body temperature high enough, and layering won't help if your clothes are soaked. If it's extremely cold with precipitation, or wind chills are extreme, consider taking a break. 

“Many of the tips we follow in the summer months are just as important in the cold weather months,” says Katie Varnado, ATC, athletic training supervisor with ATI Sports Medicine. “Regardless of activity level, stretching and warming-up is key to help prevent cramping, pain and injury, as muscles tend to contract in the cold. Also, staying hydrated, even when it’s not hot, is important. Dehydration can be more difficult to notice during colder weather, so be sure to drink before, during, and after activity.”

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