When the winter winds are whipping, some Iowans may decide to skip their regular exercise routine.
Steve Woita, director of Creighton University’s recreation and wellness department, urges you to stick with it, even when wind chills are below-zero outside.
Woita notes many Iowans are dedicated to low-intensity exercises like walking or yoga on the green during the summertime.
“Obviously, that’s not going to be a good fit for winter months,” Woita says. “So, we’re looking for those moderate-intensity-type exercises, like a good long jog, something that’s consistent, that you’re going to have that body temperature being created from your exercise constantly through the course of your workout.”
If you plan to exercise outdoors in the freezing weather, be sure to wear three layers of clothes. The layer closest to your body should be made of a synthetic material that can wick sweat away and keep you dry. A second layer should be something to keep you warm, and a third layer should be water-resistant to keep out snow, wind or rain.
Also, wear a hat and gloves to keep your extremities warm — or you could suffer an injury.
“Most likely, you’re going to experience frostbite before you experience hypothermia,” Woita says. “If you’re experiencing frostbite, you’ll want to gradually increase the temperature of that body part, whether that’s your ears, nose, fingers or feet.”
High-intensity workouts, like sprinting or interval training, could create too much sweat and make your body colder. Be mindful that the longer you’re outside, the easier the temperature can affect your body. Consider cutting your routine short if you feel too cold while exercising.
“Any time we’re outside of those moderate temperatures of 60- or 75-degree days, we need to be cognizant that there is an added stress to the body,” Woita says. “Physiologically, the body’s going to have to work a little bit differently, and a little bit harder, and that’s why decreasing some of that intensity of your exercise is important.”
As temperatures drop, studies find the amount of people who keep up with their normal exercise habits also drops by about seven-percent.