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Staying Healthy While Exercising in Cold Weather

Although we live in the Sunshine State, we still have to deal with a few days of cold weather. When it’s cold out, it can be hard for youth and their parents to get the 60 minutes of daily physical activity recommended by health officials. If families do venture out into the cold to exercise, it is crucial that family members dress appropriately to prevent too much heat loss. Here are a few tips to remember when exercising in cold weather.

 

Dress in Layers

It is important to dress in layers when exercising outdoors so that your body has necessary insulation and you have the ability to remove the layers when your body temperature rises.  If you are moving at a steady pace, your body is going to start generating heat. Your body temperature will rise and cause you to sweat. By wearing clothing in layers, you have the ability to change the amount of insulation that is needed. Try to avoid heavy cotton sweats or tightly woven material that will absorb and retain water. Because these materials cannot provide a layer of dry air near the skin, they can increase the amount of heat your body loses as you exercise and eventually make you feel colder.

 

Don’t Forget Your Head

Your head should be covered while exercising in the cold. Heat loss from the head and neck may be as much as 50 percent of the total heat being lost by your body.

 

Cover your Mouth
To warm the air before you breathe it, use a scarf or mask. Do this especially if breathing cold air causes angina (chest pain) or you are prone to upper respiratory problems.

 

Stay Dry

Wet, damp clothing, whether from perspiration or precipitation, significantly increases body-heat loss.

 

Keep your Feet Dry

Use a fabric that will wick perspiration away from the skin. Polypropylene, wool or other fabrics that wick moisture away from the skin and retain insulating properties keep the body warm when wet.

 

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration affects your body’s ability to regulate body heat and increases the risk of frostbite. Fluids, especially water, are as important in cold weather as in the heat.

 

Check the Weather

You should always check the temperature and wind conditions before going out. Do not exercise outdoors if the weather conditions are unsafe.

PG

Author: brk09 – brk09@ufl.edu

Ben is the UF-IFAS Jackson County 4-H Extension Agent
http://jackson.ifas.ufl.edu/4-h/

Permanent link to this article: http://okaloosa.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2013/01/18/staying-healthy-while-exercising-in-cold-weather/