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Winter exercise can be dictated by ‘Old Man Winter’ as cold temperatures and bitter weather conditions can put a freeze on regular workouts, but there are ways to prep and succeed in working through the cold to stay in top physical shape. Photo Contributed

Winter Exercise- Be Prepared

MADISON- The frigid temperatures we endure during the winter months can cause our exercise routine to come almost to a freeze. Many of those who love the outdoors for exercise, especially runners, have to revamp their normal exercise routine to be able to face ‘Old Man Winter’ and the effects of the bitter season.

The first thing to know about exercising in cold weather is the fact doing so is safe, as long as you take the correct precautionary measures to keep warm. Plus, check with your doctor before enduring in an exercise program in the cold if you are a beginner, especially if you have underlying health issues such as asthma or heart conditions. For those who are continuing a current exercise program, learn the precautions suggested by experts and proceed in staying healthy.

First and foremost prior to the adventure outside, check the weather forecast and do a warm up pre-run by moving around inside enough to get the blood flowing without breaking a sweat. Once you establish a warm up then outside will be much easier.

Clothing is always important and depending on how cold the conditions are will determine what to wear for protection. Wear a warm base layer. High tech fabrics help keep you warm and dry as the sweat will often evaporate during your exercise, which is most likely running. Wind and temperature together make up the wind chill and that chill can penetrate your clothes. Any exposed skin is open to possible frostbite so keep that in mind while facing the elements.

For runners, its best to start your run into the brisk wind and finish with the wind at your back. To help break up the effort of running into the wind, you can try alternating your efforts by running into the wind for a designated time and then turn around and have the wind at your back.

Once outdoors in the elements and working up a sweat, you may not feel thirsty, but you should stay hydrated by drinking water although you may not feel really thirsty so force yourself to drink fluids during your run and especially after your exercise. Dressing too warmly can generate a lot of heat, thus the need for water to keep up with your body’s sweat and evaporation. Even the wind can cause dehydration, so experts suggest drinking water or sports drinks before, during and after your workout, even if you’re not thirsty.

Most athletes are not really in the know that when it’s cold, blood flow is concentrated in the body’s core, leaving the head, hands and feet open to the possibility of frostbite. The injury can also affect exposed skin such as face, nose and ears. Early warning signs include the feeling of numbness and loss of feeling or a stinging sensation. When you think frostbite may be occurring, it is recommended to get out of the cold as soon as possible, slowly warm the affected area and seek emergency care if needed. Experts also indicate you should not rub the frostbite area because than can damage the skin.

Safety tips can mean success or not when attempting any outdoor activity. If necessary, shorten your outdoor workout or cancel the event if necessary.

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