Cold weather doesn’t have to put a freeze on your outdoor exercise program. If you take precautions, you can still work out when the weather turns chilly.
1) Wear the right clothing. Don’t overdress. You can overheat even in below-freezing temperatures. If you dress too warmly, you’ll sweat a lot. Then, when cold winds hit, perspiration will rapidly evaporate, chilling you. You want to limit perspiration and keep it away from both your skin and the outside air.
2) Layering is key. Wear a synthetic material like polypropylene against your skin. This will allow the sweat to pass through the fabric away from your body. The second layer should be wool or cotton to soak up moisture. The third layer should be chosen for its ability to keep the cold air out — something lightweight and artificial.
Layering also helps regulate your temperature. If you get too warm, you can strip off a layer.
3) Heads up. You can lose a tremendous amount of heat through your uncovered head, so wear a hat, cap or hood. Your feet get cold first. Wear appropriate boots or shoes, insulate them with warm socks and keep them dry.
Because of the large surface area to volume, your hands are also more susceptible to cold. Choose mittens over gloves, because the fingers can warm each other and the mitten decreases the exposed surface area.
4) Don’t forget fluids. If you can see your breath, you’re seeing moisture leave your body. So drink plenty of fluids, particularly if the air is cold and dry. Drink water before you go out, and bring some with you. But don’t drink alcohol — it makes you lose heat.
5) Don’t overdo it. Cold is a stress on the body, and so is exercise. Together they may be too much for someone not in optimal health. Talk to your doctor before you start a winter exercise program.
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