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Cold Weather Workouts: Deciphering Degrees

See - it does get cold in South Carolina!

As winter approaches, the temperature is not only changing, but our thoughts of exercising outside begin to freeze. We start to say to ourselves: “Not today, it’s too cold to exercise outside; I’ll exercise when it warms up!” Well here’s the deal, it’s never to cold to exercise if you prepare!

With a few myths out there, it’s time to learn what’s factual and ten secrets to battling through tough temperatures.

Dispelling Cold Weather Myths

Cold-weather exercise isn’t safe.
False! Nearly everyone can exercise safely in the cold, even individuals with heart issues or asthma. As long as you check with your doctor and learn the H3 ten tough temperature secrets you’ll be fine!

I don’t need to drink as much water since I’m not sweating.
False!  No matter who you are, you can become just as dehydrated in cold weather. It’s important to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your workout because hydration allows your body to regulate body heat. 

Ten Tough Temperature Secrets

1. Layer Up.  It is essential to dress in layers so that you can easily remove them as the workout progresses. Start with a thin layer first – preferably material that draws away sweat like polypropylene.  Make sure to avoid cotton and don’t over layer! Remember, exercise does generate a good amount of heat, thus the goal of clothing preparation is to  balance sweating versus shivering.

2. Block It.  You may not be aware, but the sun can be just as harmful (if not more so) in the winter months. Go ahead and put on some sunscreen, lip balm, and sun glasses.

3. Head towards the Wind.  If at all possible, begin the walk, jog, bicycle loop or other workout in the prominent direction of the wind. This way on the journey back home, you’ll  not only have an extra push, but you’ll be much less likely to get the chills.

4. Make your Motivation.  Obviously we’d rather reside in our nice warm beds, but it’s important to maintain our fitness levels over the wintry weather months. This year really make yourself accountable by recording your workouts or performing them with a friend or next door neighbor. Set a goal for the spring and come up with your own personal rewards system for venturing out into the icy elements.

5. Know the Signs.  Be able to recognize the signs of frostbite and hypothermia. These are two injuries that can with no trouble result from exercising in cold weather. By understanding the signs and symptoms you can easily avoid and treat these common cold weather injuries and  know when to head home!

Signs of frostbite include: numbness, burning, tingling, skin turning white, hard, starts to itch, and/or peels.

Signs of the more severe hypothermia include: shivering, goose bumps, confusion, muscle stiffness, lack of coordination, slurred speech and even unconsciousness.

6. Protect the Essentials.  Exposing yourself to the cold certainly poses greater risk to your extremities. Bundle up your hands, feet, and head to protect yourself from frostbite. Lastly, make sure to follow these ten secrets because each will factor into a safe winter exercise experience.

7. Stay Dry.  Clothing that becomes wet from rain or precipitation will unquestionably effect your body’s ability to regulate heat.

8. Check the Weather.  You’ll not only know how many layer to wear, but sometimes it is just too cold or windy to exercise outside. Pay attention to the wind chill because it is one more factor to increase the need for insulation.

9. Switch to a Wintry Weather Workout.  Pick up or learn a new sport/exercise specific to the winter months. Try cross-country skiing, ice skating, snow shoeing or even snow boarding. If snow is unavailable you’re your looking to stay warm, find another alternative hit up the gym scene or a new exercise video. 

10. Consume Complex Carbohydrates.  Just like exercising in the heat, foods high in carbohydrates enable the body to properly regulate its temperature.  Additionally, they provide the body that extra energy if need be. Warm complex carbohydrate foods are particularly ideal such as breads, soups, potatoes and cereals.  

Or if all else fails, take a trip down to Hilton Head Health, where we are enjoying 70 degree beautiful weather!

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