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How to Exercise Safely in the Cold

Almost anyone can exercise safely in the cold. Individuals with asthma or heart problems should consult their physician before beginning an exercise program.


Safety First

Know how to avoid and identify frostbite and hypothermia symptoms.

  • Frostbite: Usually affects unprotected skin on hands, face, or toes. It begins as cold skin and tingling and progresses to numbness, skin discoloration, or hard or waxy-looking skin. A person might complain of difficulty with fine motor tasks and blistering after rewarming.
  • Hypothermia: Refers to abnormally low body temperature. Symptoms include: cold hands/feet, shivering, dizziness, hunger, nausea, difficulty speaking, confusion, increased heart rate and clumsiness, slurred speech, lack of concern about one's condition, shallow breathing, and loss of consciousness. Call 9-1-1 immediately if these symptoms occur.


Check The Weather

If it is going to be well below zero degrees with a wind chill, try indoor exercises, such as squats, push-ups, walking up your steps, or lunges. If it is mildly cold, go for it. If conditions are icy; consider exercising inside to avoid injury.


Dress In Layers

Stay warm and don't get wet. Avoid cotton, which will hold moisture and reduce your core temperature. Keeping your body temperature at or slightly above 98.6° will help drive blood down your legs, helping to keep your feet warm.

  • Wear a polypropylene bottom layer or other material to wick moisture away from your skin. Use fleece or wool as a second layer for insulation. Lean individuals may need more insulation.
  • Finish with a breathable, water-resistant outer layer.
  • Wear a hat, gloves, and protect your face.
  • A scarf or special face mask will help protect your skin and warm the air you breathe to help protect your lungs.