News from Hannibal Regional Hospital

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For many of us, working out in cold weather doesn’t sound very appealing. But ,just because the weather may be turning colder, it is no reason to put one’s fitness goals on hold. If you are someone who doesn’t enjoy indoor workouts, you may want to consider maintaining your outdoor workout. There are a few safety precautions to keep in mind before you head outdoors.
  • Remember to dress in layers. Several thin layers are warmer than one heavy layer. It is easier to add or remove layers to help regulate your body temperature. One of the biggest mistakes you can make while exercising in cold weather is to dress too warmly. Exercise generates a considerable amount of heat, making you feel like it is warmer than it really is. But as your sweat starts to dry you get chilled. By dressing in layers you can remove and put back on layers as needed. 
  • The types of fabric you choose are also important. The fabric next to your body should keep the skin dry. Choose synthetic fabrics that “wick” moisture away from your body, such as DryFit, Thinsulate, Thermax, CoolMax, and silk. Avoid cotton as your base layer because it is very absorbent and traps the moisture against the skin. The second layer is to keep you warm. Wool or fleece are a good choice. The outer layer is to protect you from the outside elements. You want fabrics that are waterproof, wind-resistant, and breathable, such as ClimaFit, Gore-Tex, Microsuplex, Nylon, Supplex, and Windstopper. Keep in mind that stop-and-go activities, such as mixing walking with running can make you more vulnerable to the cold if you repeatedly work up a sweat and then get chilly. 
  • Always remember to cover your head, feet and hands. When it is cold, blood flow is concentrated to your body’s core, leaving hands and feet vulnerable to frostbite. Try wearing a thin pair of gloves under a pair of heavier gloves or mittens lined with wool or fleece. You can remove the heavier pair if your hands begin to sweat. Almost 50% of your body’s heat is lost through your head. A hat will help prevent some of that heat loss. Ears are also vulnerable to frostbite. 
  • Keep your mouth covered. A scarf or face-mask that covers the mouth will help warm the air before you breathe it. This is especially important for those who suffer or are prone to respiratory problems. 
  • Wear the right foot wear. Wear shoes with adequate traction to prevent slipping and help you keep your balance on inclement roadways. If you can’t avoid running in the snow, you may want to think about buying trail running shoes, which are somewhat water-proof and give you a little more traction in the snow. Avoid wearing cotton socks when running because they won’t wick away the moisture, leaving your feet wet and prone to blisters. This is always the case, not just in the winter. 
  • Stay hydrated. Fluids, especially water, are just as important in the winter as they are in the summer. Dehydration affects your body’s ability to regulate heat and increases the risk of frostbite. Make sure to drink plenty of water and avoid liquids such as alcohol or caffeinated beverages that will cause dehydration. 
  • Finally, be aware of dangerous weather conditions and what can result from cold weather exposure while exercising outdoors. Wind chill extremes can make exercising outdoors unsafe even if you dress warmly. Consider taking a break or choosing an indoor activity instead if the temperature dips below 0 degrees F.
For more information contact Hannibal Regional Hospital Bowling Green Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine, 573-324-6079.
Posted in: Health Tips
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