New Delhi: Staying fit when it's cold can be tough. During the winter months and as the mercury drops, most people, even the most motivated exercisers, tend to hang up their workout gear and hibernate. But it is important to stay active all year round - spring, summer, autumn, winter - to remain fit and healthy, most importantly, to live a disease free life.
Regular exercise helps prevent or manage a wide range of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, certain types of cancer, high cholesterol, arthritis, etc. It also boosts your mood and keeps your weight under control.
While regular physical activity is critical, people with certain health conditions such as asthma, heart problems or Raynaud's disease, should check with their doctors first before taking up any exercise to avoid any untoward medical occurrence or as precautionary measures.
Here are a few safety tips that can help you get most of your exercises without any health problems while working out in the cold:
Watch out for these signs of frostbite and hypothermia
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Frostbite - Also called cold burn, it is an injury caused to skin and other tissues due to freezing. Symptoms of frostbite include – numbness, cold, loss of feeling or a stinging sensation, hard and pale, etc.
Hypothermia - A potentially dangerous drop in body temperature that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it. Prolong exposure to cold causes this condition. Symptoms may include - intense shivering, confusion, inability to think clearly, memory loss, exhaustion, fumbling hands, slurred speech, fatigue, loss of co-ordination, etc.
Get out of the cold and seek medical help as soon as possible if you suspect frostbite or hypothermia.
Dressing in layers can keep you warm, but don't overdress as wearing too many as your body generates a considerable amount of heat during exercise. Also, opt for easy to remove, lightweight, breathable materials that won't disrupt your movements. However, avoid cotton that can make you feel heavy and wet as you exercise.
Avoid outdoor activities in extreme cold
People with a heart disease should avoid outdoor exercise as it can increase the heart rate. Experts suggest that patients with heart disease should avoid outdoor exercise if the Wind Chill Index is below - 10°F.
Don't forget your safety gear
If you're exercising after dark, wear reflective clothing. Wear sneakers or boots that have enough traction to prevent falls and keep you steady. But, if youre going skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling, the Mayo Clinic recommends wearing a helmet besides other safety equipments, including chemical heat packs.
You can get sunburns in winter just as in hot summer. And if you're exercising in the snow or at high altitudes, the damage can be even more severe than thought. So always wear a good sunscreen whenever you step out of your comfort zone.
Drink plenty of fluids and water before your workout or going for a walk. You need to increase your water intake, especially, during a workout to keep your body hydrated. Decreased in water intake during cold weather is a common mistake that most of us do. In fact, the harsh cold air in winter months can be hard on our body, and therefore drinking more water can be beneficial in many ways than one.
Check the weather
Check the weather forecast, especially, if you're planning outdoor activities. If exercise can put your body at risk of any untoward incident due to ice or rain, consider shortening or cancelling your outdoor workout. This can help you prevent injuries or falls that could take weeks to heal.