Now that Christmas over and you've stuffed yourself with delicious holiday treats, it may be time to work all of that off and just because it's cold, don't give up on walking, running, and other outdoor pursuits.
Here are some suggestions on how to stay on the move in cold temperatures, courtesy of Baptist Health:
- Clothing is critical, says the American College of Sports Medicine. Although a snuggly double-thick cotton sweatshirt may seem like a good choice, it doesn't insulate nearly as well as synthetic fabrics such as polypropylene.
- Don't overdress. You can overheat even in below-freezing temperatures. If you dress too warmly, you'll sweat a lot. Then, when cold winds hit, perspiration will rapidly evaporate, chilling you. You want to limit perspiration and keep it away from both your skin and the outside air.
- Layering is key. The ACSM recommends that you wear a synthetic material like polypropylene against your skin. This will allow the sweat to pass through the fabric away from your body. The second layer should be wool, polyester, or fleece, which provides primary insulation. The third layer should be chosen for its ability to keep the cold air, wind, and rain out -- something lightweight and artificial.
- Layering also helps regulate your temperature. If you get too warm, you can strip off a layer.
- You can lose a tremendous amount of heat through your uncovered head, so wear a hat, cap or hood.
- Your feet get cold first. Wear appropriate shoes, insulate them with warm socks and keep them dry.
- Because of the large surface area to volume, your hands are susceptible to cold. Gloves or mittens should be worn before the hands become cold. Choose mittens over gloves because the fingers can warm each other and the mitten decreases the exposed surface area.
- If you can see your breath, you're seeing moisture leave your body. So drink plenty of fluids, particularly if the air is cold and dry, says the ACSM. Drink water before you go out, and bring some with you. But don't drink alcohol -- it makes you lose heat.
- Cold is a stress on the body, and so is exercise. Together they may be too much for someone not in optimal health. Talk to your health care provider before you start a winter exercise program. People who have diabetes, who take certain medications or who are older are at greater risk that their body temperature will drop in cold weather.
- Warming up before exercising is always important, but even more so when it gets cold.
- Cold air doesn't damage the lungs. Even very cold air is warmed to body temperature by the time it hits the lungs. But for some people with asthma, cold air can trigger an attack.
For more suggestions from Baptist Health click here.