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Dr. Rick's Health Tip of the Month

January 2000

Top Five Excuses for Not Exercising in Cold Weather

(and why they don't work...)

By Rick Allen, DC

Penguin on ski's graphic
  1. I'11 freeze my lungs. As freezing air makes its way through your body and down to the lungs, the body warms it up. There is no scientific evidence to show you can freeze your lungs. However, it can be more comfortable to exercise in the cold if you cover your nose and mouth with a scarf.

  2. I can't keep warm. Keeping warm is a lot easier than you might think. Just follow the three-layer principle: wear an inner layer of wool, silk, or a synthetic fabric to wick away sweat; an insulating layer of wool or a synthetic fabric to keep the body warm; and an outer layer to provide protection from wind and rain. Most sporting goods stores have a wide selection of outdoor exercise clothing.

  3. It's not safe. Cold weather exercise can be safe if you plan ahead. Exercise during the day. The light will help you see icy or hazardous areas while the sun will keep you warmer. If you must exercise when it's dark, avoid high-volume traffic areas and wear bright clothing and reflective strips.

  4. I can't get a decent workout. Many athletes think that because you sweat less in the cold, you're not getting as good of a workout. This is not true. In fact, it takes a little more energy to exercise in cold weather than it does in warm weather. Winter is a good time to build a running base, work on steady-state training, or try a new sport such as cross-country skiing.

  5. It's a hassle. Set your running clothes aside so they are easy to find and put on. Run your usual routine with a warm-up, training run, and a cool down. Then return indoors to stretch.

Dr. Allen is a Professional Member of the American Medical Athletic Association,

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