Don’t let chilly temperatures turn you into a couch potato…keep walking! Use these tips to help keep you moving and comfortable even when temperatures drop.

Get the right gear
Before you head outdoors, head to a specialty shop to get warm clothing. Ideally, you’ll want to dress in layers so you can adjust what you have on as your body temperature rises with exertion. Layers help you avoid bulky clothing that can be uncomfortable, too. Choose jackets, vests, pants and shirts that are wind and rain resistant. The layers closest to your body should be made of moisture wicking material.

Think safety
Shorter days mean you are more likely to exercise at dusk or after dark. Choose light colored clothing and add reflector strips to increase your visibility to others. You may also want to grab a flashlight.

Protect your skin
Windy, cold conditions can be especially damaging to skin and appendages. Protect your nose, cheeks, fingers and toes from the elements. Don’t forget the sunscreen; you need it even in winter.

Watch your step
Cold weather often means icy and slippery conditions. Wear slip resistant shoes and tread lightly over bridges or other areas that are susceptible to black ice.

acadia-national-park-80344_640Monitor the weather
In many parts of the country temperatures can vary widely within a 7-day period. Plan your walks to coincide with warmer, dryer weather days. During especially bleak weeks, bring your workout indoors. Alternatively, you can shorten your walk and add more days. So instead of one 45 minute walk twice per week, you can opt for a 30 minute walk twice weekly to limit your exposure to the cold.

Share your route
If you choose to leave your phone behind, be sure someone knows where you are going and when you are expected to return. Use well-lit and well-traveled paths so you are less vulnerable to stranger danger.

Check your attitude
Your attitude shapes your experience so be sure yours is sunny when you think about winter walking. Tell yourself winter walking is a terrible chore and it’s sure to feel like one. Focus instead on the fresh, crisp air and unique winter landscape. Remind yourself of the benefits, and give yourself a pat on the back for getting out there. When you have the right mindset, getting out the door is easier, even in cold weather.

Winter walking can be fun when you prepare and anticipate. Be sure to dress warmly and know what you can expect from the weather. Be willing to adapt as needed, and you are sure to stay on the fitness path.