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Simply Fit, by Cindy Haskin-Popp, will help you make physical activity a part of everyday life. The health benefits of regular exercise and overall daily physical activity will be discussed. Fun, practical and easy-to-follow tips on an exercise program will be shared, as will the most current research. Fitness tips for families and seniors, on fitness centers and on buying proper and affordable equipment will be regularly given. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Is Jack Frost Nipping at your Nose?

Exercising outdoors during the winter months can be invigorating. The cold, fresh air can awaken your senses and the sunlight can boost your mood (as well as your Vitamin D stores). Beware, however, that "Jack Frost" can blow a mighty wind creating weather conditions, such as frigid temperatures, wind chill factors, and icy conditions that jeopardize your safety. To ensure you receive warm returns from your cold weather workout, follow these rules:

Check with your doctor.
  • Certain medical conditions, such as asthma and heart disease, may require special precautionary measures before heading outdoors to exercise.
Hear what the weatherman has to say.
  • When the temperature drops below minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit, including the wind chill factor (the effects of temperature and wind together), exposed skin is in danger. When this weather conditions exists, it is best to exercise indoors.
  • Note that fast-moving exercise (e.g., skiing, snowboarding, running, etc.,) generates a wind chill since it facilitates air movement across your body. This should be taken into account when deciding if weather conditions are conducive to outdoor exercise.
Protect your extremities.
  • Cold weather causes blood to be shunted away from your hands and feet and toward your core to keep your internal organs warm.
  • Wear mittens, rather than gloves, to help the heat circulate around your fingers.
  • Choose thermal socks and footwear that will keep your feet warm and dry.
Cover your head.
  • About 40% of your body's heat can be lost through your head. Wearing a hat can reduce the amount of heat dissipated from your body.
Cover your mouth.
  • Wear a scarf to help warm the air as you breath. This can help to reduce the likelihood of bronchospasm in susceptible individuals.
Dress in layers.
  • Dressing in layers provides extra protection/insulation by trapping warm, dry air between your articles of clothing.
  • You can remove outer garments or put them back on as your body heats up or cools-off, respectively.
Stay hydrated.
  • Water can be lost from your body through breathing, sweating, and urine production - thus putting you at risk for becoming dehydrated, even in cold weather.
Start your exercise by heading into the wind, if possible.
  • Heading into the wind at the start will reduce your chances of getting chilled near the end of your workout. This way, as you return the wind will be at your back - when you are at your sweatiest.
Be able to recognize the signs of frostbite (the freezing of body tissue) and hypothermia (dangerously low body temperature).
  • Frostbite manifests as a numb feeling in the effected body part (usually your fingertips, toes, ears, and/or nose). The effected extremity will be pale in appearance.
  • Hypothermia initially involves intense shivering and cold extremities. As it progresses, disorientation, slurred speech, impaired judgement, and decreases in heart rate, breathing, and reflexes can occur.
The cold weather doesn't have to keep you indoors all winter. Keep "cabin fever" at bay by ensuring that you get some outdoor exercise this season. Just take the necessary precautions to make your outings both safe and enjoyable.

Note: Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.


"Exercise and cold weather: Stay motivated, fit and safe," The Mayo Clinic

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