Safety Tip of the Week

This week Wendy Couture, the district’s safety and risk reduction manager, shares safety tips related to winter fitness.

Winter Fitness

Cold temperatures can discourage even the most motivated person, and without motivation it’s easy to pack away your workout gear for the winter. You don’t have to let cold weather mark the end of your fitness routine. Try these exercising tips during cold weather.

Stay safe during cold weather exercise

Exercise is safe for almost everyone even in cold weather; however, some conditions such as asthma, heart problems or Raynaud’s disease, can be a problem. You should check with your doctor first for special precautions you may need depending on your health condition or current medications.

Check the weather and the wind chill

Check the forecast before going outside. Temperature, wind and moisture, along with how long you will be outside, are key factors in planning a safe cold-weather workout.

Wind and cold together make up the wind chill, a common element in winter weather forecasts. Wind chill extremes can make exercising outdoors unsafe even with warm clothing.

Wind can penetrate your clothes and remove the insulating layer of warm air that surrounds your body. Any exposed skin is vulnerable to frostbite.

Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia

We talked about hypothermia in last weeks article but what about frostbite? Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing and is most common on exposed skin, Can show up on your cheeks, nose and ears. It can also happen to your hands and feet. Early warning signs include numbness, loss of feeling or a stinging sensation.

Get out of the cold immediately if you suspect you may have frostbite. Slowly warm the affected area — but don’t rub it since that can damage your skin. Seek emergency care if the numbness or stinging doesn’t go away.

the the wind chill is extreme, consider an indoor exercise instead.

Dress in layers

Dress in layers that you can remove as you start to sweat and then put back on as needed to warm up if you start feeling cold.

You may need to experiment to find the right combination of clothing for you based on the intensity of your exercise.

Don’t forget safety gear and sunscreen

If it’s dark outside, wear reflective clothing while working out. And if you ride a bike, you will need both headlights and taillights for safety.

Wear a helmet while skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.

It’s as easy to get sunburned in winter as in summer and even easier if you are exercising in the snow. Wearing a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and a lip balm with sunscreen is important. Also, don’t forget to protect your eyes from snow and ice glare with dark glasses or goggles.

Drink plenty of fluids

Don’t forget about hydration, as it’s just as important during cold weather as it is in the heat. Drinking water or sports drinks before, during and after your workout will help you to stay hydrated.

You can become dehydrated in the cold as well as the heat, but it may be harder to notice during cold weather.

Remember, know when to head home to warm up. And always be sure to let someone know your exercise route and your expected return time in case something does go wrong.