Worried the cold weather means you’ll be stuck inside a dingy gym all winter long? Not to worry, if you’re a fan of exercising outside, the American Council on Exercise says it’s fine to exercise in the cold as long as you take certain precautions to avoid hypothermia. Here are some tips for cold weather exercising from the Council’s chief science officer Cedric Bryant…
Insulating yourself against the wind and other elements is key, so create a layered barrier instead of a single bulk. (The advantage is you can always remove the outer layer if you get over-heated.) The first layer that’s directly touching your skin should be a lightweight synthetic or polyester material. It will dry quickly and wick away moisture. The second layer should be wool or polyester fleece. The outermost layer — worn in the rain, snow, or wind — should be lighter weight and water-repellent to help you stay dry.
Add a hat
About 50 percent of body heat is lost from an uncovered head when the temperatures hit the freezing mark. Wearing a hat will help your body retain heat.
Don’t forget your gloves
Keeping hands and feet warm is key in the cold temperatures since your body will shunt blood away from extremities to keep your internal organs warm. Gloves will help prevent skin damage and frostbite in sub-zero temperatures. To keep your feet warm, make sure your torso is properly insulated. That will drive blood back down to your lower extremities.
Avoid heavy cotton materials that sop up sweat
These will make you wetter and colder. Stick with wool and polyester fabrics, mentioned above.
Check the forecast
Check the air temperature and wind chill factor before exercising in the cold. The US National Safety Council says there’s little risk when exercising in 20° Fahrenheit, even with 30 miles per hour winds, but that dangers exist when the combined temperature and windchill falls below -20°F, which can happen occasionally in Boston.
Consider a face mask or scarf in frigid temperatures
If those temperatures are dipping near the danger zone, protect the skin on your face by covering it up. Having a loose layer over your nose and mouth can also warm frigid air before you inhale, helping to protect your lungs.