From Jo Zimmerman, a trainer and instructor of kinesiology at the University of Maryland, here are a few ways to stay comfortable and safe while exercising in the cold:
● Dress appropriately
Layer your clothing so you can remove items as you warm up. Ideally, the outer layer would be windproof (check the label to make sure it still “breathes” to let moisture out) and the inner layer would wick moisture away from your body. Cover your head, hands and feet. Mittens are warmer than gloves. For longer runs or windy bike rides, try layering thin gloves under some larger mittens. Wool or wool-blend socks will feel warmer than cotton when damp. Hats are great, but a headband or earmuffs might be more comfortable for some people.
● Stay hydrated
Drinking throughout the day is the best strategy in any season, but especially in winter because cold-weather exercise might make it harder to think about drinking cold water.
● Apply sunscreen
You can still get a burn in winter if you are outside long enough. Also wear UV-protective sunglasses in strong daylight and in snowy conditions.
● Make yourself visible
Shorter days mean more workouts in the dark. Wear reflectors or LED blinkers on your clothing or equipment. Brightly colored clothing can also enhance visibility during low-light or nighttime workouts.
● Beware of ice
Roads, trails, sidewalks and even grassy areas can have icy patches, so try to think about those surfaces if the temperature is below freezing.
● Warm up and cool down
In cold temperatures it is especially important to take time for the transition from low- to high-level activity and back again, but work quickly enough to avoid becoming chilled and uncomfortable. Five minutes of a low level of activity is usually enough, but for more intense exercise, a two-step warm-up might be smart.
When you’re finished, remove your cold, wet clothes in exchange for something warm and dry as soon as possible. A hot shower might be tempting, but a warm shower is a better idea. If your skin is chilled and a bit numb, you might not know that the shower is actually too hot.
● Be safe
In any extreme conditions, tell someone where you’re going, what you’re planning to do and when you expect to be back.