By Monzerrath Ramos Gonzalez, UC Davis Health Aggies Intern
With the temperatures dropping as the colder months approach, it is important to know how to keep yourself safe if you plan to exercise outside. If you are considering working out in the cold but have a history of asthma or heart problems, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor first to check if you need to take any extra precautions. This is because cold air can make breathing more difficult and can also increase your risk for a heart attack. Additionally, everyone should also always check the weather before deciding to exercise outside. If the temperature is below 0℉ or if there is extreme wind chill, you may want to consider an alternative form of exercise that day. If it is safe for you to exercise outside, the following are tips to help make sure you stay safe during your outing.
While it may be more difficult to notice during cold weather, you can still become dehydrated in the cold. You will still lose water as you are sweating, breathing or performing any other bodily functions so water is just as important during cold weather as during warm weather. If you notice your lips are chapped, you likely need more water!
- Dress in layers
You want to make sure you are warm if you are working out in the cold. Dressing in layers is especially helpful because you can add or remove layers as needed. The general recommendation is to have a lightweight synthetic material as your first layer so sweat can stay away from your body. The next layer should be something made out of wool or fleece to insulate your body heat. The last layer should be something light that is wind resistant and water repellent.
- Protect your extremities
In the cold, your blood flow will mostly be concentrated around your body core which unfortunately means your extremities (ie: hands, feet, head, nose, ears etc.) are more susceptible to frostbite. Make sure to wear gloves, thick socks and a headband for your ears to protect those areas. If necessary, you may want to also consider a scarf or ski mask to protect more of your face
- Be aware of the signs of frostbite and hypothermia
While ideally you want to avoid frostbite and hypothermia, it is still important to be aware of the signs of each in case you experience it. When someone is experiencing frostbite, they will often feel numbness, loss of feeling and a stinging sensation in a specific area of their body. As for hypothermia, you may notice intense shivering, slurred speech, loss of coordination and fatigue. If you think you are experiencing any of these, try to move somewhere warm and call for help if needed.
What is your favorite cold weather exercise?