Outdoor Exercise and Cold Weather

Runners and joggers should take a few extra safety precautions when exercising outdoors during cold weather. Snow, ice and sleet increase the likelihood of a fall and injury. Running outdoors in cold temperatures can result in breathing difficulties. Runners and joggers are in danger of frostbite on the face, fingers and toes when the temperature drops below freezing. You can safely exercise outdoors if you take a few precautions. 
Photo Credit: Sebastian Ballard CC-BY-SA-2.0
Wear several layers of clothing instead of one bulky layer. The air between layers of clothing serve to insulate your body against heat loss. Remove a layer of clothing if you begin to overheat and put it back on if you start to get cold. Protect your hands and feet from cold or injury from frostbite in extremely cold weather by layering socks and gloves. Put on a pair of gloves and then a pair of mittens over the gloves to protect your fingers. If your hands begin to sweat, you can remove the mittens. Wear two pairs of socks to protect your feet and toes. You may need to wear running shoes a half size larger to accommodate bulky socks. Always wear a warm hat when outside during cold weather. A lot of body heat is lost through the head. Wear ear muffs or a thermal headband to protect your ears from the cold. 
When the temperature is below 0 degrees Fahrenheit or if there is a very cold wind chill factor, consider indoor exercise. If you choose to exercise outdoors during extremely cold weather, take extra precautions to protect your body from heat loss and frostbite. Wear a ski mask to protect your face from the cold and wind burn. Wear thermal undergarments when the weather is extremely cold (below 0 degrees Fahrenheit) and the wind is blowing.

Drink plenty of water during cold weather exercise. You may not notice that your body is becoming dehydrated when the air is cold. Run a little slower than you would in warm weather to help avoid sweating which can lead to chills. Running or jogging at a slower pace is also important to help avoid falls due to slick ice covered paths and sidewalks. Avoid exercising outside during rain and sleet because wet clothing can cause your body to lose heat. 

For more information and safety tips, see:

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About Robin R.
I’m an AFPA certified personal trainer & nutrition consultant, NASM certified corrective exercise specialist, NASM certified youth exercise specialist, online fitness coach and freelance writer specializing in health and fitness. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health. I specialize in weight loss, functional strength training, total body toning, aerobic conditioning, plyometric training, nutrition planning, and home-based boot camp style workouts for women. My goal is to make every personal training session fun and effective for my clients. My services include both in-home personal training and online fitness coaching.

2 Responses to Outdoor Exercise and Cold Weather

  1. Robin, I appreciate your Fitness Tips! I've been jogging and running since my marriage in 1966 and, pretty much, follow your suggestions. I feel fantastic (much younger than my 76 years) and attribute much of that to my continued physical activity, a raw vegan diet and a great mental attitude.

  2. Robin R. says:

    Thanks for your feedback. So good to hear that you're practicing positive lifestyle habits. Quality of life is always more important than longevity of life, in my opinion.

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