Winter is no time to swap your free local park for a gym membership.

According to a study, “Compared with exercising indoors, exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalization and positive engagement, decreases in tension, confusion, anger, and depression, and increased energy.”

However, it is important to take proper precautions during the winter to avoid injury and illness. Here are 5 quick tips to ensure a safe winter workout.

Check Weather Conditions

Be sure to check the temperature, wind chill, and chances for rain or snow before going out for a workout. These factors are both uncomfortable and dangerous if you’re not properly prepared.

When the wind chill level drops below -18°F (-28°C), exposed skin is vulnerable to frostbite in 30 minutes or less. This risk increases in snow or rain as your core body temperature drops when you get wet. Consider shortening your workout or taking it inside if the temperatures drop too low or the forecast calls for snow.

Prepare for the Weather

Just as important as knowing what the weather will be, is knowing how to prepare for it. Wearing the proper clothing and gear to protect your body from the cold is crucial to a safe and enjoyable winter workout.

Moisture-wicking material will protect you from any falling rain or snow that will reduce your core body temperature. Layers on top of this – including fleece for insulation and a water-resistant outer layer – will also help keep your body temperature warm.

Beyond your core, it is crucial to protect the areas of your body where blood flow is less concentrated: including your head, hands, and feet. Add a warm hat, a pair of gloves, and thick socks to your workout clothing checklist to keep your temperature up in these areas.

Remember Your Warm-up and Cool Down Routine

Developing routines before and after a workout that prepare your body for strain is especially important in the cold weather.

As opposed to exercise in warm weather, warm up the muscles in your body lightly before stretching or strenuous activity begins. This movement helps to prevent strain on tightened muscles. Consider walking briefly to get the blood flowing before you stretch.

After your workout, try an extensive static stretch to give your muscles time to cool down. To learn more about the benefits of stretching and best practices, check out our blog on stretching.

Keep Hydrated

You may not sweat as much during workouts in the winter weather, but your body still loses a similar amount of water. Hydration is essential to successful winter workouts, especially when you don’t feel as thirsty. Despite how you feel, your body needs fluids to combat the water you lose through sweating, increased breathing, and the cool, dry air. Be sure to keep that water bottle full.

Recognize the Symptoms of Frostbite and Hypothermia

Frostbite is when an area of skin freezes in low temperatures – typically skin exposed to the elements. Red flags that indicate frostbite include “numbness, loss of feeling or a stinging sensation.” If you notice these symptoms, leave the cold immediately. If the numbness does not go away, call for emergency care.

Hypothermia occurs when your core body temperature drops to an abnormally low-level. Some of the signs and symptoms include “intense shivering, slurred speech, loss of coordination and fatigue.” If you experience any of these symptoms during your workout, seek emergency assistance immediately.

For more information on winter safety tips, contact Klasinski Clinic.