Exercising Outdoors Safely Through the Winter Months

By on December 1, 2012

By Alice Burron –

Get ready to tackle the great outdoors this winter and get into winter-sports awesome shape with these tips for exercising in the cold.

Factor in more than just temperature. Consider environmental factors beyond temperature, such as humidity and wind. Each of these factors can affect the body’s ability to maintain a safe and comfortable temperature during exercise. When the wind-chill factor falls below -20 degrees Fahrenheit, exposed skin is at risk, so stay indoors.

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Layer your clothing. You can vary the amount of insulation by the number of layers you wear. Avoid heavy cotton or tightly woven fabrics since they absorb and retain moisture and sweat. Once a wet layer is near the skin, no longer can clothing provide a layer of warm, dry air, and body heat can be lost quickly.

Wear a hat. According to the American Council on Exercise, heat loss from the head alone is about 50% at the freezing mark, so by simply wearing a hat or helmet you can increase your time safely outdoors considerably. If the air is frigid, consider a face-mask style hat that covers the nose and mouth so your breath warms the air before you breathe it in and it reaches your lungs.

Stay hydrated. Fluids, especially water, are just as important in the cold weather as in the heat because dehydration can affect your body’s ability to regulate temperature, which can than increase the risk of frostbite.

Keep your feet dry. Find a way to keep moisture away from your feet by wearing socks that wick away moisture. Polypropylene and wool are the most common fabrics. In deep snow consider wearing gators to keep snow from creeping over the sides of your shoes or boots.

If you’re outdoors and experience any of the following symptoms, find a warm place immediately to decrease the risk of hypothermia; shivering, goose bumps, confusion, difficulty thinking, muscle stiffness, trouble seeing or hearing, lack of coordination, or numbness.

Exercising in the winter can offer a unique view of nature, and recharge you mentally and physically. With a little planning and thoughtfulness to the details above, you can experience the variety winter sports have to offer without concern.


Full of enthusiasm for all things that create an environment for healthy living, Alice Burron has been a leading expert in the health and fitness industry for over 20 years. Alice is the author of several books, the latest of which is Stress as Trigger, Body as Target. Her latest healthy living resource endeavor, www.SoapstoneFitness.com is an online source of fitness gear for active women everywhere. Visit her on her blog at www.2BFIT.net, where you’ll find her latest interviews with national magazines, fitness gear reviews, and exercise and wellness expertise.

About Alice Burron

Alice Burron, one of the co-authors of the “Stress As Trigger, Your Body As Target” book, is a life-long student of health and wellness. Her experience includes worksite wellness, wellness coaching, personal training, writing, speaking and community wellness initiatives. She can be contacted at [email protected] The book can be purchased at www.soapstonefitness.com.

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Exercising Outdoors Safely Through the Winter Months