Tips for Staying Healthy During Your Winter Workout

By Sara Butler

Layer Up!

Are you ready to walk through a winter wonderland? How about dashing through some snow? You may or may not be laughing all the way, but if you’re one of the many winter warriors out there who don’t let frosty temperatures disrupt your winter workout, then good for you. Just be aware that there are certain precautions you should take if you want to stay healthy enough to curl up by the fireside and roast some chestnuts when your workout is through. Here are a few winter workout tips from the chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic to help you stay healthy as you channel your inner Frosty while you run here and there all around the square.

Is It Safe?

Before you go jingling your bells outdoors this winter, the first question you may want to know is if it’s safe. It is! For a healthy individual, outdoor exercise when it’s cold should be just fine. Of course, you should check with a medical professional before you start any outdoor exercise regimen to ensure you’re healthy enough for it, especially if you have a heart condition or asthma. It’s also important to be aware of the signs of frostbite and hypothermia so you know what to look for.

Luckily, following a few of the following tips can help ensure that you stay safe as you work out.

Check the Weather

It’s great that you don’t let the potential frigid temperatures keep you from getting your body moving, but it’s always important to check the forecast before you head out. Check the windchill, especially since wind can penetrate even the warmest winter workout gear and make it unsafe for you to go out.

Depending on the temperature, frostbite is also something you need to be aware of since it can impact exposed skin. As a general rule, when the wind chill is below minus-18 degrees Fahrenheit, the risk of frostbite increases, making exposed skin vulnerable after less than 30 minutes outside.

Do you know what to look for when it comes to frostbite? The signs and symptoms of frostbite include:

  • Cold skin
  • Prickly feelings in extremities
  • White, bluish-white, grayish-yellow, or red skin
  • Muscle and joint stiffness that leads to clumsiness
  • Waxy looking skin
  • Blisters that appear after the skin has been rewarmed

When it gets that cold, opt for an indoor workout instead!

Layer Up!

This time of year, you may want to bundle up like Ralphie’s little brother in A Christmas Story but that’s probably not the best option. Remember, your body generates heat as you work out, making you feel much warmer. Combine that with sweat that can then pull heat from your body and you’re looking at being too warm, then being too cold. The key is to find the middle ground and you can do that with layers.

When you dress in layers and begin to feel hot and start to sweat, you can remove one layer and then put it back on when needed. A thin layer of synthetic, man-made material, such as polypropylene, is a great choice because it wicks sweat away from the body. Try to avoid fabrics that are made of cotton in the first layer since it will get wet and keep that wetness pressed against your skin.

For the second layer, add wool or fleece to help insulate. Finish off your look with a breathable, waterproof layer and you’ve got the perfect outdoor workout combination that you can take off or add back on at your leisure.

Protect Your Extremities

The ears, hands, feet, and head need extra protection when you’re exercising outdoors in winter. Keep them safe by making sure to wear a hat, gloves, mittens, and extra socks to protect these parts from the cold. A scarf is also a great addition when it’s really cold out to protect your face.

Drink Up!

Even though it’s cold doesn’t mean you can slack off on your fluid duties during exercise. You should drink water before, during, and after your workout to keep from becoming dehydrated. Dehydration can be sneaky when it’s cold outside but remember that you’re still sweating when it’s cold and you need to replenish what your body has lost.

Be on the Lookout for Hypothermia

One of the biggest dangers of exercising in the cold weather is hypothermia. This is a condition in which your body’s core temperature drops because it’s losing heat faster than it can regenerate it. Make sure to be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms of hypothermia so you can stop what you’re doing and warm up before it gets worse:

  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of coordination
  • Intense shivering

If you ever suspect you or someone you’re working out with has hypothermia, then seek medical help as soon as possible.

If you’re going to run like Rudolph or get up on the housetop to deck the halls this winter, then make sure you do it with your safety in mind. If you have questions or concerns about your exercise regimen, don’t forget that the chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic are a valuable resource!

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