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10 Tips for Safe Winter Exercise

Do you continue exercising outdoors even as the temperature drops? If so, make sure you're taking the proper steps to stay safe this winter. Read on to learn more.
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Rain, shine, sleet or snow, are you outside working out? No matter the season, do you hate missing your daily walk, jog or run? If so, taking the proper precautions is essential to ensure you stay safe when training outside in winter.

If you never let the cold weather hold you back, make sure to keep these tips in mind:

1. Check in with your doctor.
If you have a medical condition like asthma or heart disease, or a circulatory condition, you should check with your doctor before exercising outdoors in the cold. They can help you determine the proper duration and intensity that is safe for your body and won't complicate your health. If they tell you to keep it indoors, trust their opinion.

2. Layers, layers, layers.
Dressing in layers isn't just important for keeping you warm, but also for cooling you off. Remove clothing that feels wet if you can during your workout to avoid getting chilled. Choose moisture-wicking fabrics to be closest to your body and add heavier layers on top to prevent hypothermia and keep muscles loose. If you start to feel clumsy, slur your words or feel excessively tired or are shivering beyond control, seek medical help.

3. Add some traction.
You may need to invest in a new pair of running or walking shoes for winter training. This will help you safely navigate the snow and ice that may have taken over your path. Always pay attention to where you're stepping when outside in the winter to avoid injury. This may also mean changing routes a couple of times for safety.

4. Stay hydrated.
Drinking water may seem more important when you're hot, but dehydration can occur anytime. The symptoms of dehydration include excessive sweating or urination, fever, diarrhea or vomiting. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and then before, during and after your workout to prevent dehydration. After exercising, a natural alternative to sports drinks (which can be full of sugar and artificial ingredients) is coconut water, which can help you replace lost electrolytes.

5. Keep hands and ears covered.
Your fingers and ears are highly susceptible to frostbite after prolonged exposure to extreme cold. Make sure to wear thick gloves (multiple pairs if needed) and a hat or headband whenever you head out into the cold. If you notice your hands or ears are going numb or tingling, get out of cold as soon as you can and slowly warm them up.

6. Choose bright and reflective clothing.
When you're exercising in the dark because of the time change, it's crucial to pick clothing to help you stand out. Go for bright colors with reflective panels so you're seen by drivers. The bright clothing will also help you stand out amongst the snow -- picking white workout gear clearly wouldn't be the best choice for safety.

7. Take the time to warm up.
Before you head outside, do five to 10 minutes of dynamic stretches or light cardio indoors to get your muscles warm and prepped for the drop in temperature. This can help you avoid getting hurt. When your workout is done, come back inside and do five to 10 minutes of static stretches to relieve tension and further prevention against injury.

8. Wear extra socks.
Your feet are another area of the body prone to frostbite. Make sure you wear at least one pair of thick socks when exercising outdoors to keep them protected. If your feet should happen to get wet through all your layers, this is the time to bring it indoors and get out of the wet shoes and socks quickly.

9. Start heading into the wind.
Most fitness experts would recommend beginning your walk or run heading into the wind. Why? By the time you work up a sweat, you don't want to be heading into the chilly wind which will quickly cool you down and could raise your risk for hypothermia by cooling off wet clothing too quickly.

10. Know when to call it quits.
Restraint is always key to staying safe when training in the winter. Knowing the signs of hypothermia, frostbite and dehydration will help you stay healthy while you keep up your exercise routine. Doubt means don't when it comes to your health and choosing to bring your workout indoors when the temperature is too low or the roads are too icy can be the smartest thing you do for your health.

BONUS: Wear sunscreen.
The sun's rays are no less damaging in the winter -- you just aren't hanging out outside to give them a second though. Apply sunscreen before going for a walk or run to prevent UV damage as well as sunburn.

There's no reason to fall behind on your fitness routine during the winter months, just be sure you're doing everything you can to make your workout as safe as possible. Get everything you need for successful workouts at eVitamins!

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