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Be Prepared When Exercising in the Cold

Tips for avoiding the dangers of weather extremes

SUNDAY, Oct. 19, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- If you're someone who relishes cold weather sports and exercise, there are some important health and safety points you need to heed as you enjoy that invigorating air.

You must pay attention to the temperature, wind and other weather conditions when you're skiing, skating, running or doing any other kind of outdoor winter activity.

If you aren't properly prepared, you risk frostbite, hypothermia and dehydration, says information from the University of Michigan Health System (UMHS).

To avoid problems, the UMHS offers the following advice.

  • Stretch and warm up your muscles before you begin your outdoor activity. You'll know you're properly warmed up when you break a sweat. You can do your warm-up indoors by riding an exercise bicycle or outdoors by doing an easy type of exercise, such as brisk walking.
  • Wear the right clothing. Your underwear should be a fabric that moves moisture (sweat) away from your body. Polypropylene is a good choice. Avoid cotton. It holds moisture close to your skin, reducing your body's ability to keep itself warm.
  • Dress in layers, so you can remove clothing as you get warmer during your workout and then put it back on when you take a break or finish your activity. Don't forget to wear a hat and gloves or mittens and warm footwear.
  • Drinking enough while exercising is as important in the winter as it is in summer. Stick to water or sports drinks. While coffee and hot chocolate may be tempting on a frigid winter day, they contain caffeine, which causes your body to lose fluids.

More information

Here's where to go to find more cold weather safety tips.

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System
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