Staying Warm While Exercising in the Cold

Stay warm pic

Now that March is here, it’s still never too late for some residual snow or ice (especially considering this last Winter!).  So, check out these tips from Baptist Health on staying warm while working out in the cold.

Here are some suggestions on how to stay on the move in cold temperatures, courtesy of Baptist Health (

  • Wear synthetic fabrics: Polypropylene insulates much better than a double-thick cotton sweatshirt.
  • Don’t overdress: You want to limit sweating so that when the cold hits you do not get chilled.
  • Layering is key. The ACSM recommends that you wear a synthetic material like polypropylene against your skin to allow sweat to pass through the fabric away from your body. The second layer should be wool, polyester, or fleece, which provides primary insulation. The third layer should be chosen for its ability to keep the cold air, wind, and rain out — something lightweight and artificial. If you get too warm, you can strip off a layer.
  • Cover your head: You can lose a tremendous amount of heat through your uncovered head, so wear a hat, cap or hood.
  • Wear warm socks: Your feet get cold first. Wear appropriate shoes, insulate them with warm socks and keep them dry.  Take it from me (Maurie Cofman, C.E.S. personal trainer in St. Louis, Brentwood and Clayton, MO), you don’t want to get your socks or your mittens wet.  All I can say is OUCH.
  • Wear mittens: Because of the large surface area to volume, your hands are susceptible to cold. Gloves or mittens should be worn before the hands become cold. Choose mittens over gloves because the fingers can warm each other and the mitten decreases the exposed surface area.
  • Drink plenty of fluids: If you can see your breath, you’re seeing moisture leave your body. Drink water before you go out, and bring some with you. But don’t drink alcohol — it makes you lose heat.
  • Cold is a stress on the body, and so is exercise: Together they may be too much for someone not in optimal health. People who have diabetes, who take certain medications or who are older are at greater risk that their body temperature will drop in cold weather.
  • Warm up: It is important before exercising regardless of the weather, but even more so when it gets cold.
  • Cold air doesn’t damage the lungs: Even very cold air is warmed to body temperature by the time it hits the lungs. But for some people with asthma, cold air can trigger an attack.

Working Out In the Cold: 11 Steps to Keep Comfortable, American College of Sports Medicine, Sports Medicine Bulletin January 7, 2014.

For more information on working out in the cold, contact Maurie Cofman, C.E.S. personal trainer in St. Louis, Brentwood and Clayton, MO.