When the weather turns crispy, it's a challenge to exercise comfortably and safely. Here are some tips on how to manage your workout in cold temperatures and wet weather.
What factors affect a person's ability to tolerate cold?
What kind of clothing will keep me warm and dry?
Should I adjust the intensity of my workout?
Did you know that cooling a muscle causes it to become weaker? Fiber recruitment patterns are different when muscles are cold, which reduces your power and speed. This means that you should consider decreasing the intensity of your workout in the cold or count on using more energy to perform the same movements. If you can maintain a normal body temperature with appropriate clothing, then your exercise performance should not suffer. During endurance competition, athletes who tire during the latter part of an event are susceptible to hypothermia because a decline in exercise intensity reduces heat production.
Are there any other workout changes I should consider?
Consider wearing heavier clothing while warming up. You'll also need to warm up longer or more vigorously to heat up your body. During a training run, you should change your course so you run out against the wind and return with the wind at your back. This helps reduce feelings of discomfort when finishing a workout with sweat-soaked clothing. If you can, exercise in the afternoon when temperatures are likely to be at their highest. During competition, continue your warm-up until right before the start of the event. If you have completed an athletic event in cold conditions, immediately remove wet garments and put on warm, dry clothing. Remember that when you stop exercising you generate less heat, but the frigid air is still pulling warmth away from your body.
When is it too cold to exercise safely?
With proper clothing and exercise adjustments, you can exercise in a cold climate. Use the chart to evaluate the actual impact of temperature and wind conditions. Early signs of hypothermia include weakness, shivering, fatigue, slurred speech, dizziness and confusion. Move immediately to a warm area for first aid.
Windchill Factor Chart
Reviewed: 10/2/2009 Published: 8/3/2004