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This Month In Body
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    It may surprise you to find out there may actually be benefits to exercising in the cold weather. As your body tries to stay warm, you’ll burn more calories, the sun exposure will boost your vitamin D, and getting outdoors will reduce your risk of seasonal affective disorder (the winter blues). If you decide to work out in the cold months, here’s how to do it safely. Read >>
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Health and Fitness News

Ice-Cold Caution

Safety tips for exercising in the cold weather.

When winter weather arrives, some people use the cold temperatures and limited daylight as excuses not to exercise. Other people actually prefer to exercise in cool weather over hot. In general, unless the wind chill is in the negative digits or it’s cold and rainy or windy, scientists claim it’s safe to exercise as long as you take proper precautions. If you have asthma, heart problems, or poor circulation, check with your doctor before exercising in the cooler weather. Regardless, always check the weather forecast before exercising outside.

It may surprise you to find out there may actually be benefits to exercising in the cold weather. As your body tries to stay warm, you’ll burn more calories, the sun exposure will boost your vitamin D, and getting outdoors will reduce your risk of seasonal affective disorder (the winter blues).

If you decide to work out in the cold months, here’s how to do it safely.

Recognize Warning Signs of Frostbite

Frostbite occurs when your skin and body tissues freeze. It’s rare for someone to get frostbite if temperatures are above 5 degrees Fahrenheit. But bring the temperature down to 15 degrees below zero and frostbite can happen in less than 30 minutes. On days this cold, be smart and exercise indoors.

Pay attention to the warning signs of frostbite. Usually affecting your extremities like fingers and toes, frostbite starts with feelings of numbness, then a burning or tingling sensation. Should you begin to notice these sensations, get to warmer temperatures as soon as possible and run your hands or feet under warm water—not hot water.

Wear Proper Clothing

Since there’s not as much blood flow in your limbs and extremities, they’re more susceptible to the cold. This is why it’s important to wear gloves and wool socks. Body heat likes to escape through the head and your ears get cold easily, so be sure to wear a hat.

When you’re exercising in the cold, you may be tempted to overdress. But when your body becomes damp from sweat it loses its heat faster, putting you at an increased risk for hypothermia. This is why it helps to wear layers of clothing made from specific types of material. You may be chilly when you first step outside, but you’ll warm up quickly once you start moving. As you warm up, it’s safe and even smart to remove layers.

Your first layer of clothing should be made of synthetic fabric designed to keep moisture away from the skin. Over this, wear clothing made of wool or fleece to keep your body heat from escaping. Your third layer should be a breathable windbreaker or rain jacket. Avoid clothes made of cotton since they don’t keep you warm if you get sweaty. As soon as your workout is over, change into warm, dry clothes.

Stay Hydrated

You may think dehydration is more of a hot weather risk, but it’s also a real danger in cold temperatures. As you sweat in winter weather, it quickly evaporates in the cold, dry air, making it seem like you’re not sweating as much as usual. Since feeling sweaty reminds you to drink more fluids, it’s easy to get dehydrated when exercising in cooler temperatures. Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workouts, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

Wear Sunscreen

Just because you can’t feel the warmth of the sun as much in winter doesn’t mean you can’t get sunburned. Be sure to wear sunscreen when exercising outdoors, especially if you’re in high altitudes or in the snow. Cover your face, neck, and any other body part exposed to the sun for a safe, enjoyable workout in the great, cold outdoors!