Minnesotans are known for their hearty lifestyles. And the Twin Cities often ranks as one of the country’s fittest communities. So it is no surprise that during cold temperatures we often hit the pavement and exercise outdoors when many others would stay inside to work out. But is it really safe to exercise in cold temperatures?
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) offers a list of tips to keep you safe and healthy during cold outdoor exercise sessions. ACE’s Chief Science Officer Dr. Cedric X. Bryant shares this advice to help you prepare for the elements:
- Layer up for your workout. Clothing adds to the insulation barrier and is the most important element in performance while exercising in the cold. By wearing clothing in layers, you have the ability to change the amount of insulation that is needed as you work out.
- Protect your head. Generally, heat loss from the head alone is about 50% at the freezing mark, and by simply wearing a helmet or hat, a person can stay outside indefinitely.
- Don’t leave the house without your gloves. Lower temperatures cause blood to be shunted away from your hands to the center of the body to keep the internal organs warm and protected. Superficial warming of the hands using gloves will return blood flow to prevent tissue damage.
- Check with the weatherman: Always check the air temperature and wind chill factor before exercising in the cold and dress appropriately. A danger exists for individuals with exposed skin when the wind-chill factor falls below –20° F.
If you are a runner, the Road Runners Club of America offers special tips for you. They suggest that you leave the headphones at home and stay off the street entirely when it is snowing. Their complete list can be found on their website.
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