The WellSpan Spotlight

Fitness and movement

The wonders of winter workouts

The wonders of winter workouts

It can be tough following through on your New Year's resolution to stay active during the chilly season. However, cold weather exercise can greatly benefit your health. Regardless of the temperature drop, you can still enjoy a brisk walk, jog, or run outside after dinner with your family, which is good for your body and spirits during winter months.

"Exercising in cold weather should be an important part of your daily routine because it helps improve your health and well-being," says Chadd Rudisill, a WellSpan physical therapist. "Cold weather exercise can boost your metabolism, burn calories, lower blood pressure, and increase energy levels."

 Preparation is the key, he says.

"If you prepare correctly, you can still attain the benefits of exercising in the cold safely and keep it relatively comfortable," he says. "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 getting fit outdoors

  • Be mindful of your body's temperature and changing activity levels. When running, it's normal to feel a little cold at the start but your body temperature will increase as you continue.
  • Avoid early mornings or evenings when temperatures are coldest and to prevent slips and falls on icy patches that may form overnight.
  • Exercise while it's light outside and warmer, before work or during your lunch break. After dark, go with others to be safe or invest in a head lamp.
  • Take the windchill into account and avoid outdoor activity in extreme cold. A temperature below zero or a windchill below minus 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 overdressing and overheating. In other words, if it's 30 degrees outside, imagine it's 50 degrees and dress accordingly.
  • 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 and avoid 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.

'Cool 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.

To find out about our comprehensive range of sports medicine services, go here.