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5 Tips for Exercising Outdoors When It's Really, Really Cold Out

There's nothing more gorgeous than going for a run after a fresh snowfall. The world is a winter wonderland of white, and it's like running or jogging through an untouched paradise. But boy is it cold! The hardest part of winter fitness is trying to survive the chill and full-on cold of an outdoor workout. For those who hate being cooped up in a gym, winter is a tough time. Thankfully, we've got some tips to help you stay safe when exercising in the very cold outdoors.

Be aware of wind chill.

Even if the weather isn't very cold, wind chill can be brutal. Wind chill can drop the temperature by as much as 10 degrees, and the wind will get into your clothes, increasing your risk of getting sick. If there is forecasted to be heavy winds, you may want to avoid working out—higher winds = higher chance of illness.

Know the signs of cold damage.

First off, there is that stinging, burning sensation in your nose and lungs when breathing in a lot of cold air. That can drastically increase your chances of getting sick. Hypothermia occurs when your body is exposed to very cold temperatures, and the first signs of hypothermia include intense shivering, loss of coordination, slurred speech, and fatigue. Frostbite is damage caused by frozen skin and blood vessels, including in your feet, nose, cheeks, ears, and hands. Numbness, stinging, and loss of feeling are the earliest signs of cold damage.

Bundle up your extremities.

Your hands, feet, and head are most susceptible to the cold because your body tries to keep all the heat as centrally located near your organs as possible. That means you need to wear extra-protective shoes, socks, gloves, scarves, hats, face protectors, and ear-muffs when you go running or working out in the cold.

Add layers.

You will never stay warm with just one really thick layer of clothing. The secret to proper dress for winter workouts is layers. Start with a light layer of a tank top, then add a T-shirt on top of it. Go with a long-sleeved shirt next, then add a sweater or hoodie to stay warm. If it's really cold, you may need a full-thickness jacket on top of all that. For your legs, layer warm thermal underwear with at least one other layer of pants, and consider wearing shorts to keep your upper thighs warm. The more layers you wear, the harder it is for your body heat to escape—and for the wind and chill to reach your skin.

Drink more water.

Did you know that your risk of dehydration is actually higher during the winter? During the summer, you can tell when you're thirsty, so it's easy to drink enough water to keep up with your heavy sweating. But during the winter, you're often so focused on being cold that you fail to realize your body is also needing water. Make sure to drink at least an extra liter of water every day to prevent winter dehydration.

These five tips will go a long way toward keeping you safe and protected while you exercise outdoors. You don't have to spend your winter cooped up in your house or the gym, but you do need to take the proper precautions to ensure effective protection from the cold!

[Image via Shutterstock]

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