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Running Ahead and Keeping Warm: Cold Weather Exercise Safety Tips

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By Rachel Derry
Staff Writer LIFamilies

Keeping yourself healthy and in shape is an important part of improving both your mental and physical health. There is nothing better for a bad mood than a good endorphin rush! With winter around the corner with the cold weather sure to follow exercising outdoors can turn tricky. Exercising is to keep you healthy, so the last thing you want to do is put your health in danger. Before heading out for that early morning jog there are a couple extra precautions that you should take to ensure a safe, enjoyable run.

Wear many layers to keep your body heat in and the cold air out. For the layer closest to your skin, you want a lightweight, synthetic material that will wick the sweat away from your body. Try not to wear cotton against your skin because it will absorb and hold onto your body sweat, keeping you wet and increasing the likelihood of hypothermia. Cover the first layer with 1 or 2 layers of wool or fleece, insulating your body. Then cover with a light, wind and water resistant coat/jacket.

Make sure to stay hydrated with plenty of water. Dehydration is difficult to recognize when dealing with cold weather exertion. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids before, after, and during your cold weather exercise to ensure hydration. Maintaining your fluid balance in your body is one of the main ways to keep your core temperature up.

Make sure to keep your head and hands covered. When your head is exposed to the cold air you lose as much as 50 percent of your body temperature. Keeping your head covered is a simple means to keeping yourself "warm enough." Also keep your hands gloved to protect your finger from frostbite. Layer mitten over your gloves to insulate and retain heat. Then, also, if you need to remove a layer you won't be exposing your skin to the frigid air.

Always let someone know that you're heading out, which direction you're going, and when you plan on returning. You never know what can go a-rye; you may slip and hurt yourself or worse. You don't want to be left in the cold any longer than absolutely necessary. If a family member knows you should be home by a certain time, they'll be able to check on you if they think it's past time for your arrival.

Always take the forecast into consideration. Experts say that there isn't any real danger in exercising at temperatures as low as 20 degrees, as long as the weather is with you. If the wind-chill factor drops the temperature dramatically, though, that might be a day to exercise indoors. Exercising can do more harm than help if the temperature dips below 0, especially if the wind is whipping.

Lastly, always check with your doctor before exerting too much energy in the cold. The danger from dropping temperatures increases with some illnesses, such as asthma, heart disease, and Reynaud's disease, See if exercising outdoors is still recommended and if there are any additional precautions that should be taken to protect your health.

Long Island Health, Fitness & Beauty Articles > Running Ahead and Keeping Warm: Cold Weather Exercise Safety Tips

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