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Staying Safe While Exercising in the Cold

By Donna Stark

It's easy to stay active in the summer and fall, but those beautiful seasons don't last forever and sooner or later, the temperatures begin to drop and the air starts to hurt our face. Now for some, that is plenty enough reason to head indoors for their daily exercise, but for others, it's just another hiccup to manage during their workouts. It does beg the following question though. Is cold weather exercise good for the body? Well, it isn't necessarily bad for you, but there are some things you should take into consideration before you head outdoors. Let's take a look at a few of them here.

Body Temperature

As temperatures drop, your blood will move away from the surface and travel toward your core. This causes your body to lose heat and work harder to maintain a stable temperature, so it's important to wear layers while outside and if any skin is exposed, to pay attention to the red flags of hypothermia.

Muscle Injuries

You may find that the colder it gets, the slower your reactions may be. The parts of your body farthest from the core will cool down the most and this may adversely affect the function of your muscles. They may tighten up and become less flexible, which can increase the risk of strains and tears. Make sure you warm up appropriately before any activity.


When you work out in the middle of summer, your sweaty body combined with the blazing sun serves as a reminder to replace the fluid you are losing. But in the cold, you may not feel as thirsty and you definitely won't feel as hot, so you are more likely to become dehydrated. Always carry some water with you.


Many winter athletes often complain of coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness when exercising out in the cold. This is because cold air and physical activity can both aggravate asthma, which can become very dangerous. Don't forget your inhaler and cover your mouth with a scarf or mask to warm the air you breathe.

Heart Attacks

Your blood vessels constrict and narrow in the cold temperatures which cause your blood pressure to rise and reduces the amount of blood flow to your heart. As a result, your heart has to work even harder than it normally would, increasing the risk of a heart attack. If you have a history of heart issues, consult your doctor before starting any type of cold-weather exercise.

Staying Safe in the Cold

Exercising in the cold weather is certainly OK to do, but it is critical to keep your overall health and safety in mind, so remember these tips before you head out and stay safe!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Beaverton, Ore.

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