SATURDAY, Jan. 7 (HealthDay News) -- If you exercise outdoors in
cold weather, you need to take certain steps to stay safe, an
The main issue is hypothermia, which is excessive loss of body
heat, explained Dr. Cedric X. Bryant, chief science officer at the
American Council on Exercise.
Layers of clothing keep you warm and give you the ability to
control your body heat while exercising. A hat or helmet is
crucial, because you can lose about 50 percent of your body heat
through your head when the temperature is at the freezing mark.
Wear gloves and warm footwear. It can be difficult to keep hands
and feet warm when exercising in the cold. Lower air temperatures
cause the body to shift blood away from the extremities to the
center of the body to warm and protect the internal organs, Bryant
said in a council news release.
While superficial warming of the hands will restore normal blood
flow, this does not occur in the feet unless the temperature of the
torso is normal or slightly higher than normal. This means that, to
keep your hands and feet warm, you also have to keep the rest of
your body warm at all times, Bryant explained.
Before you go outside to exercise, check the air temperature and
wind chill factor. If your skin is properly covered, there is
little danger when the temperature is 20 degrees Farenheit, even if
there is a 30 miles-per-hour wind, according to National Safety
Council data cited in the release.
However, exposed skin is in danger when the wind chill factor (a
combination of air temperature and wind) falls below minus 20
If you're exercising in the danger zone for skin exposure, you
should wear a scarf or mask over your nose and mouth, to warm the
air before you inhale it, Bryant advised.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
cold weather hazards and safety.