5 Tips for Exercising Outdoors in the Winter

Jan 31, 2022 4:15:00 PM / by Voyage Healthcare Team posted in Family Medicine, Health Tips

This is the time of year when cabin fever starts setting in for many Minnesotans. We are on the home stretch of winter, and even though the air is still chilly, you don’t have to put your exercise routine on hold until the snow melts. If you are itching to be outside and get a little exercise, we’d love to share some tips to help you do so safely!

healthy young couple jogging outside on snow in forest. athlete running on  beautiful sunny winter day
  • Wear Reflective Gear, a Headlamp, or Carry a Light

Daylight is short in the winter and if you are working a traditional 8 AM - 5 PM work schedule, getting out to exercise in the daylight can be tough. There are lots of accessories available that can help you see and be seen when exercising in the dark. There are winter hats with lights, light harnesses you can strap to your torso or wrists, or even simply carrying a small flashlight can help you see icy spots on the sidewalk and help cars see you. 

  • Dress in Layers

You want to be warm, but not too warm when exercising outdoors. The best way to dress is in three layers - a sweat-wicking layer, a fleece or wool layer, followed by a waterproof layer. Try to avoid cotton next to your skin which doesn’t dry quickly and can cause you to get chilled quickly.

  • Pay Special Attention to Your Fingers, Toes, and Ears

Your extremities are especially prone to cold. Your body focuses on keeping your core warm in chilly weather so you’ll want to treat your fingers, toes, and ears to an extra layer of warmth. Just like your body, consider wearing a sweat-wicking pair of gloves and socks followed by a wool layer. For the extra frigid days, you can even throw a chemical heat pack in your gloves or socks for extra warmth. You may need to purchase a slightly bigger shoe to fit your extra-thick pair of socks. Don’t forget your ears! Always keep your ears covered with a hat or headband. 

  • Take Care of Your Skin

Sunscreen isn’t just for lying on the beach! The sun is still strong in the winter and can damage your skin. Make sure if you’ll be out and about in the winter weather, that you protect your exposed skin with a good layer of sunscreen. If it’s bitterly cold, it can be helpful to slather on a bit of petroleum jelly on any skin that can’t be covered.  This can help prevent frostbite.

  • Drink Your Fluids

It may not be easy to carry a water bottle with you when out and about in the cold. Make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids before and after your outdoor exercise routine. 

There are times, especially in the Bold North, when going outside for extended periods of time can be downright dangerous and could result in frostbite or hypothermia. There is nothing wrong with taking an extremely cold day off or altering your exercise plan to do an indoor workout instead. If you decide to venture outdoors, make sure to be aware of frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite often occurs on exposed skin like noses, ears, cheeks, fingers, and toes. Watch for numbness and stinging. Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature drops below normal. Watch for shivering, loss of coordination, and slurred speech which can all be signs of hypothermia. If you suspect hypothermia, get emergency medical attention right away.

Voyage Healthcare offers a variety of providers to serve your medical needs including Sports Medicine specialists. Schedule your appointment today! 

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Voyage Healthcare Team

Written by Voyage Healthcare Team

Voyage Healthcare is an independently owned, multi-specialty healthcare clinic — guided by the doctors who care for families in the northwest metro area of Minneapolis/St. Paul.


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