The importance of exercise doesn’t stop when the cold months are
keeping people inside and close to the fireplace. With the hectic Holiday
season over with, it’s time for exercising routines to get back
on track and you don’t need to wait for warm weather to arrive to
make that happen. Many patients with arthritis may get flare ups because
of the weather, but following a few steps and keeping your body moving
can help to curb the occurrences.
Here are a few tips from
Dr. Carlos Prietto, CEO of Hoag Orthopedic Institute, on getting a good work out during the winter months:
- Cold temperatures tighten your muscles, so do your core exercises and warm-ups inside.
- Put on a hat, gloves and socks to protect your head, hands and feet from
releasing too much body heat, which will chill your muscles, bones and
ligaments and make them susceptible to injury.
- Be careful when walking or running on icy pavement and snow, or participating
in winter sports. These activities have a high risk of orthopedic injuries.
- After exercising, go back inside to cool down and stretch: target your
calves, hamstrings, quads, and hip flexors.
- To reduce the risk of a pulled muscle, match your activity level to the
temperature. The colder the weather, the slower you should warm up and
the easier you should exercise.
Dress in layers that you can remove as soon as you start to sweat and then
put back on as needed. First, put on a thin layer of synthetic material,
such as polypropylene, which draws sweat away from your body. Avoid cotton,
which stays wet next to your skin. Next, add a layer of fleece or wool
for insulation. Top this with a waterproof, breathable outer layer. A
heavy down jacket or vest may cause you to overheat if you’re exercising
hard. If you’re lean, you may need more insulation than someone
who is heavier. If it’s very cold, consider wearing a face mask
or scarf to warm the air before it enters your lungs.
When it’s cold, blood flow is concentrated on your body’s core,
leaving your hands and feet vulnerable to frostbite. Try wearing a thin
pair of gloves under a pair of heavier gloves or mittens lined with wool
or fleece. Wear the mittens or gloves before your hands become cold and
then remove them if your hands begin to sweat.
You need to stay well hydrated when exercising in cold weather just as
you do when exercising in warm weather. Drink water or sports drinks before,
during and after your workout, even if you’re not really thirsty.
You can become just as dehydrated in the cold as in the heat from sweating,
breathing and increased urine production, but it may be harder to notice
during cold weather.
Frostbite is most common on exposed skin, such as your cheeks, nose and
ears, but it also can occur on hands and feet, so it is important to know
the signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Early warning signs include numbness,
loss of feeling or a stinging sensation. If you suspect frostbite, get
out of the cold immediately and slowly warm the affected area —
but don’t rub it since that can damage your skin. If numbness continues,
seek emergency care.
Exercising in cold, rainy weather increases the risk of hypothermia, as
does being an older adult. Hypothermia signs and symptoms include intense
shivering, slurred speech, loss of coordination and fatigue. Seek emergency
help right away for possible hypothermia.
Almost everyone can exercise safely during cold weather but if you have
certain conditions, such as asthma, heart problems or orthopedic issues,
check with your doctor before you work out in cold weather. Your doctor
can review any special precautions you need based on your condition or
medications you might take.