How to: Stay safe exercising in cold weather January 07 2018, 0 Comments

Love the great outdoors? Does extreme winter weather have you concerned about exercising outside?

You don’t have to give up on working out in nature just because it’s cold. These tips can help you stay safe even in frigid weather.

Remember: Consult with a medical professional before you exercise in extreme weather, especially if you have medical conditions like asthma or heart disease.

Check the weather

You can’t adequately prepare for a cold weather workout if you don’t know the conditions you’ll be facing.

Go online before going out and check the latest weather forecast. Focus on the three primary factors your workout will be impacted by:

  • Temperature
  • Wind
  • Precipitation.

Temperature and wind, taken together, create windchill. Wind makes cold air feel colder, and increases the risk of frostbite. If windchill hits extreme levels, even the best clothes and gear may not be enough to protect you.

According to experts, you face minimal risk of frostbite when the temperature is five degrees fahrenheit (minus 15 degrees celsius) or higher, with negligible wind. However, the risk increases exponentially as the temperature and related windchill falls below that. When the actual temperature or windchill hits levels at — or lower than — negative 18 degrees fahrenheit (minus 28 degrees celsius), frostbite can happen in less than 30 minutes.

Once the temperature falls below zero degrees fahrenheit (minus 18 degrees celsius) without wind chill — or to a similar windchill level — it likely makes sense to take a break from outdoor activities and move your workout inside.

Did you know: Frostbite is a condition caused by the water in skin freezing? It typically occurs on exposed areas, such as cheeks, nose and ears — or extremeties like hands and feet.

Signs that you could be experiencing frostbite include numbness or a stinging sensation, like needles pricking your skin or jolts of electricity traveling through it.

If you feel any of these things, get out of the cold immediately.

Slowly warm the affected area, but don’t rub it, because doing so can harm the skin. Seek medical help if the sensations or numbness don’t go away.

The other factor you must consider before going outside is precipitation, which makes the body more susceptible to cold. If it’s cold out, and there’s a chance you could get wet, it’s a good idea to remain indoors.

Remember: Another condition to look out for when outdoors is hypothermia. Hypothermia happens when the body is exposed to cold, damp conditions, which could cause body temperature to fall to dangerous levels.

You could be entering hypothermia if you find yourself shivering uncontrollably, stammering, experiencing poor coordination or becoming extremely tired. 

Hypothermia is serious and can lead to long-term health issues or even death. If there’s any chance you might be affected by it, find someone who can get you to an emergency room for care immediately.

Dress in layers

It might seem logical to wear something heavy and warm when you’re going out in the cold. However, this could be a BIG mistake.

When you exercise, your body generates heat — enough to trick it into believing it’s much warmer than it really is. Couple this with sweating, which draws heat from the body, and you could be vulnerable to hypothermia.

Combat this by dressing in layers rather than wearing a single heavy garment. This lets you take pieces off as you begin to sweat, allowing you to get a better read on how your body is responding to cold and dampness.

Tip: Your base layer should be made from a synthetic material that wicks sweat away from your body. Avoid wearing cotton, which absorbs water and keeps it near your skin.

Your second layer should be made from fleece or wool. This provides a layer of insulation. Finally, top it all off with a waterproof layer. Make sure this top layer is breathable. Some waterproof materials can hold in dangerous levels a heat and moisture.

Idea: Not sure how to find the perfect winter workout wardrobe? Consult with a professional at a reputable outdoor sports retailer to come up the combination of garments that’s right for you.

Protect your extremeties

When you’re out in the cold, your body shifts into survival mode, concentrating blood flow in its core, where it’s needed most, leaving the head, hands and feet suscepible to frostbite. 

Similar to dressing the rest of your body for cold, use layers to protect your hands. Start by wearing glove liners made out of material that will draw moisture away from your hands. Top them with heavier gloves or mittens that you can remove when your hands become too warm.

Tip: If your hands tend to get cold, use heat inserts to warm them up.

For winter outdoor activity, buy exercise shoes larger than you usually purchase so they can accommodate a heavy pair of socks, or two pairs.

Finally, always protect your head by wearing a hat, your ears with ear muffs and your face with a ski mask.

Use sunscreen

Snow and reflected light makes it just as likely to get sunburned in the winter as in the summer. This is especially true if you work out in high altitudes. 

Always apply a high-quality sunscreen that blocks UVA and UVB rays. Don’t forget to cover your lips with a sun protective balm. Wear goggles or sunglasses to shield your eyes from light, as well. 

Did you know: ThinkitDrinkit’s Sun Protection and Hydration BOOST is specially formulated to prevent sunburn and sun damage to eyes, no matter the season.

Keep hydrated 

Dry winter air, sweating and other factors can leave you dehydrated during or after a winter workout. It can be more difficult to notice this happening in a cold environment. That’s why it’s important to constantly drink water or sports drinks while exercising. 

Tip: ThinkitDrinkit’s Hydration BOOST can help ensure that you stay properly hydrated through your entire workout.

Stay connected

Whenever you exercise in extreme conditions, make others aware of your plans, including where you’re going and when you expect to return. This is critical information for them to know should something go wrong.

Also, keep a smartphone handy, in a warm place near your body, so you can get directions, communicate or access emergency help should something unexpected happen to you.


The products and information found on this website are not intended to replace professional medical advice or treatment. Statements and claims have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Our dietary supplements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or medical condition. Individual results may vary.

ThinkitDrinkit urges you to seek the advice of a qualified professional for any health concern lasting more than two weeks, and to share with your provider any information pertaining to your health and well-being, including the use of supplemental nutrition.