Don’t let the cold temps slow you down

March 03, 2020 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Hearts

Cold days can make you want to stay in bed, snuggled up under warm blankets; but heading outdoors to get in some exercise can be just what the doctor ordered.

Colder temperatures shouldn’t discourage you from outdoor activity. In fact, heading outside for exercise during the winter can have some benefits:

  • There’s no heat or humidity to deal with. Taking a walk in the chilly weather might help invigorate you.
  • You might be able to work out longer outside than you would indoors or in summer weather, and a longer workout means more calories burned.
  • You can take in small doses of sunlight and get a bit of vitamin D during your outdoor workout. The sunlight and vitamin D can help boost your mood and keep the winter blues at bay.
  • Exercising can help boost your immunity during cold and flu season.

Be sure to check the forecast and protect yourself from the elements before heading outside.

The risk of frostbite is less than 5 percent when the air temperature is 5 degrees or more, but when the wind chill drops to -18 degrees or less, frostbite can set in within 30 minutes or less.

Follow a few simple tips to protect yourself when heading outdoors:

  • Dress dry and layer. The first layer should be a moisture-wicking material, followed by a layer of fleece then a waterproof layer. As you exercise, you can remove layers if necessary; or, if needed, you can add layers.
  • Protect your extremities. Wear gloves, a hat and a scarf to keep your head, face and hands warm, and thick wool or synthetic socks to keep your feet warm. You can also wear a thick pair of gloves under a heavier set of mittens and then remove the outer mitten when your hands start sweating (just be sure to put on your gloves before your hands start sweating).
  • Don’t forget your sunscreen. Just because it’s cold or even cloudy doesn’t mean you’re protected from harmful UV rays.
  • Stay hydrated. You may not feel as thirsty as you normally would during outdoor workouts in the summer, but it’s still important to stay hydrated.
  • If it’s been snowy, be sure to stay on well salted and cleared paths and wear shoes with good grip.
  • Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Early warning signs of frostbite include numbness, loss of feeling and a tingling sensation. Hypothermia symptoms include intense shivering, slurred speech, loss of coordination and fatigue. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek emergency help.

If the weather gets too chilly during a workout, remember sometimes “close enough” is good. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes — or about 30 minutes, five days a week — of moderate-intensity level workouts.

If you must cut your outdoor walk short and get in only 20 minutes, don’t fret. Remember that getting in some exercise is better than nothing.

If it’s too cold for you take that outdoor walk or run, there are still ways to get exercise without a gym membership. Try heading to the mall for a walk, do some housework, dance, go bowling or roller skating, climb the stairs or enjoy yoga or another exercise class.

Explore fitness classes and programs at Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness Centers.

Know your risk for heart disease. Take a free, 5-minute test that could save your life.

Related blog:

Don’t hibernate: the surprising benefits of staying active in the winter

Learn more from Healthy Driven Chicago:

Six ways exercise benefits your health

Taking intimidation out of fitness

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