ITHACA, NY — When outside temperatures drop below freezing, runners, skaters and others who exercise outdoors in the winter should protect themselves against frostbite and hypothermia.
“When temperatures are in the twenties and thirties, there’s not much of an issue as long as you’re not out for prolonged periods of time, say an hour or more,” said Frank Micale, clinical associate professor at Ithaca College and director of Ithaca College’s Wellness Clinic. “But going out in extreme temperature conditions for prolonged periods without the right kind of protection puts your extremities and core temperature at risk.”
Micale offers six ways to exercise safely in the cold.
1. Wear a hat and gloves.
2. Layer your clothing and avoid heavy cotton materials that soak up sweat that will make you wetter and colder.
3. Stay hydrated.
4. Check the forecast; a combined temperature and wind chill lower than minus-20 degrees Fahrenheit are dangerous.
5. Use footwear with good traction and tread.
6. Be careful if you’re prone to asthma or other pulmonary conditions; wearing a face mask or a scarf will help warm the cold air and protect your lungs.
“Loss of feeling in your face, hands, fingers and toes are signs that frostbite could be developing,” Micale said. “Changes in your mental state such as confusion, slurred speech and disorientation can be signs of oncoming hypothermia. These conditions are signals to get to a warmer place immediately and slowly warm your body and the affected parts.”
Certified as a clinical exercise specialist by the American College of Sports Medicine and as a strength and conditioning specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Micale has published and presented research on youth activity and fitness, firefighting fitness, circuit training, exercise quality and goal attainment. He holds a master’s degree in applied exercise physiology from San Diego State University.
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