It is cold, sometimes wet and the daylight hours are filled with work and family activities…but there is no need for your outdoor fitness routine to go into hibernation!  Staying active can help beat the winter doldrums, keep you in shape and ready for spring.  Here are some guidelines for staying safe while exercising in the cold…

Find a buddy
Recruit a friend to exercise with you. Knowing that someone is waiting for you will help motivate you! Not to mention safety.

Lather up
Be sure to wear sunscreen and use Chapstick! 

Dress in Layers
Start with a thin layer made of wicking fabric. Stay away from cotton – it holds the moisture. An outer, breathable layer will can help protect you against wind and precipitation. If it’s really cold, you’ll need a middle layer, such as polar fleece, for added insulation.

Protect Your Hands
As much as 30% of your body heat escapes through your hands and feet. On mild days, wear running gloves that wick moisture away. Mittens are a better choice on colder days because your fingers will share their body heat.

Pay Attention to Temperature and Wind Chill
If the wind is strong, it penetrates your clothes and removes the insulating layer of warm air around you. If the temperature dips below zero or the wind chill is below minus 20, it may be better to hit the treadmill instead.

Avoid Overdressing
You’re going to warm up once you get moving, so you should feel a little bit chilly when you start your run. A good rule of thumb: Dress as if it is 20 degrees warmer outside than it really is.

Don’t Forget Your Head
Wearing a hat will help prevent heat loss, so your circulatory system will have more heat to distribute to the rest of the body.

Watch for Frostbite
Make sure you monitor your fingers, toes, ears and nose. They may feel numb at first, but they should warm up a few minutes into your run.

Check with Your Physician
Cold air can trigger chest pain or asthma attacks in some people. Before braving the elements, talk to your doctor if you have any medical conditions or concerns about exercising outdoors.

Get Some Shades
The glare from snow can cause snow blindness, so wear sunglasses (polarized lenses are best) to avoid this problem.

Don’t Stay in Wet Clothes
If you’re wet, change your clothes and get warm as quickly as possible.

Stay Hydrated
Despite the cold weather, you’ll still heat up and lose fluids through sweat. Cold air also has a drying effect, which can increase the risk of dehydration. So keep drinking water.

Quick Tips:  Running in Darkness            
With fewer daylight hours, you may find yourself in the darkness of early morning or evening. While running in daylight is the safer option, keep these safety tips in mind when exercising in darkness:

  • Choose a Well-lit Route
  • Always Run Against Traffic – It’s easier to avoid cars if you can see them coming
  • Be Visible – Wear reflective gear
  • Always Have Identification on You
  • Vary Your Routes and Times
  • Carry a Cell Phone
  • Follow Your Instincts – If you feel unsafe, trust your gut and run to a safe location.
  • Ditch Your Music – Cutting off your sense of hearing leaves you at a disadvantage.

This “Shore Ortho Healthy Tip” Provided by:
Shore Orthopaedic Physical and Hand Therapy and NovaCare Rehabilitation
For more information, please contact one of our three convenient locations:
Somers Point: (609) 927-5463, Galloway: (609) 404-4804, Cape May Court House: (609) 463-6883
Managed by NovaCare Rehabilitation

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