Cold weather workouts can be comfortable and fun when you’ve got the right gear. Don’t let winter derail your fitness routine. Keep it moving. Bundle up before you go and get out there!
Sensitive areas need extra care
It is just a fact that some body parts are more vulnerable to frigid temperatures than others. Areas such as your ears, nose, fingers and toes have a higher number of thermoregulators than any other parts of the body. Thermoregulators are nerve endings that help with temperature detection. They also help to move blood away from your hands and feet, toward your core, so you maintain body heat and blood flow in the cold weather. The downside is the pain you feel as the blood flow to these areas decreases.
According to Dr. Michael B. Gottschalk quoted in the Weather Channel article, “Why do hands and feet hurt worse in the winter?” As the nerves are densely packed together and are close to the surface of the skin, any cold temperature past a certain threshold is then perceived as increased pain.”
When these vulnerable areas move from pain to numbness it is time to take action. Get inside and warm up immediately. Continued exposure to extreme temperatures without adequate protection can lead to frostbite.
Your ears, which are just thin cartilage and have no fat for protection, need TLC in cold weather. Take care of them with some cover. Wear a hat and protect your head while you’re at it. While the old myth that heat is lost through the head has been debunked, it is still true that a bare head can make you feel pretty uncomfortable in colder temps. If you aren’t a fan of hats opt for muffs or even a scarf to offer some protection.
Fingers and toes
Always opt for shoes, socks, and mittens (they are more effective than gloves) that are weather proof. You’ll want protection from the cold weather as well as rain or snow. In especially cold climates, consider products such as hot hands and feet. These are disposable warmers you drop in your gloves or shoes for hours of comfortable heat.
Frostbite occurs when an area of your body is exposed to temperatures below the freezing point. The result is damage to the tissue and skin. Noses, toes, fingers and ears are all very vulnerable to frostbite. The degree of frostbite varies depending on length and degree of exposure to the cold. You can reduce or eliminate your risk of frostbite to the nose by wearing a ski mask in very windy, cold weather.
You really can enjoy exercise in cold weather. The key is bundling. Wear layers and take special care to protect vulnerable areas. The cold need not keep you indoors; so keep working on those fitness goals.