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Remaining active in cold weather: Tips to keep you safe

Remaining active in cold weather: Tips to keep you safe

Don't put your running shoes away for the season just because temperatures are dropping. Running in cold weather can greatly benefit your health. Even a brisk walk outside after dinner with your family or friends is good for your body and your spirits during chilly winter months.

"There are many benefits to running and staying active in the cold," said Chadd Rudisill, physical therapist at WellSpan Orthopedics in Hanover. "Cold weather running can boost your metabolism, burn calories, and boost your mood."

However, if it's too cold, stay home, he added.

"If you prepare correctly, you can still attain the benefits of exercising in the cold safely and keep it relatively comfortable," he said. "This way you can maintain your fitness level over the winter and have a good base built up for when warmer weather returns."

Stay safe while being active outdoors:

  • Try exercising while it's light outside and warmer, before work or during your lunch break. After dark, go with others to be safe.
  • Be mindful of ice and slippery ground.
  • Take the wind chill into account and avoid outdoor activity in extreme cold. A temperature below zero degrees Fahrenheit or a windchill below -18 is considered dangerous.
  • If you haven't been exercising, check with your doctor before starting a new activity.

Gear up

  • Dress 20 degrees warmer than it is to avoid over-dressing and over-heating.
  • Wear a warm hat. You may also want to consider a scarf for your face and neck.
  • Put on layers, layers, and more layers. Two or three light layers help trap warm air against your body.
  • Wear wool or synthetic fabric while avoiding cotton clothing. This will keep you from losing body heat.
  • Don't forget your mittens. Keeping your fingers together will create more warmth.
  • Hydration is important in colder weather.

Cooling down when it's cold out

  • Take a hot shower to avoid the post-run chills
  • Change into clean, dry clothes.
  • Drink a warm beverage.

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