Cold temperatures and decreasing daylight hours do not mean that your outdoor running routine has to go into hibernation for the winter. In fact, cold weather exercise has been show to have a number of positive impacts on overall health!
For instance, running through the cold weather can ease the winter doldrums, improve your energy level and help you to be in better shape for the spring/summer.
However, it is important to follow our TJC cold weather exercise tips to run safely and comfortably through wintry weather:
- Pay attention to temperature and wind chill: If the temperature drops below zero F or the wind chill is below -20F, you should hit the treadmill.
- Protect your hands and feet: It is estimated that as much as 30% of your body heat escapes through your hands and feet.
- Dress in layers: It is important to start with a thin layer of synthetic material such as polypropylene, which wicks sweat away from your body. Stay away from cotton as a base layer as it holds moisture and will keep you wet. If it’s really cold out, you will need a middle layer, such as polar fleece for added insulation.
- Avoid overdressing: You should feel a slight chill off your body the first 5 minutes of winter running; after that, you should warm-up.
- Protect your head: It is estimated that 40% of body heat is lost through your head. Wearing a hat that will help prevent heat loss is very important.
- Do not stay in wet clothes: If you get wet from rain, snow, or even from sweat in chilly temperatures, you are at risk for hypothermia. It is important that you change wet clothing immediately and get to a warm shelter as quickly as possible.
- Stay hydrated: Despite the cool weather, you will still heat up and loos fluids through sweat. The cool air also has a drying effect, which can increase the risk of dehydration. Make sure you drink water or sports drinks before, during, and after you run.
- Remember sunscreen: Sunburn is still possible in the winter. It is also important to protect your lips with lip balm.
- Take it easy when it is frigid: The colder the temperature becomes, the greater your risk for a pulled muscle when running in the cold. So warm up slowly and run easy on very cold days.
- Run in the wind: If at all possible, head out into the wind. That way, on your return run, the wind will be at your back. This will lessen your chances of being sweaty and catching a chill.
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