The Risks of Cold Weather Running
Cold temperatures and short days don't mean you have to take your run indoors. Follow these basic safety precautions and learn how to outsmart the risks of running in cold weather:
Frostbite: Even if you run in extremely cold weather, you don't have to worry about freezing your core body. Your chest, abdomen, back, buttocks and all the organs they protect will be fine. It's your arms, legs, hands, feet, ears, and nose that you have to watch out for. Men also need to pay particular attention to protecting their genitals. That's because your body automatically shifts circulation from your outer to your inner body to keep vital organs warm. That leaves your extremities out in the cold.
- Dress in layers since you'll warm up once you're running.
- Wear thermal underwear, a fleece layer, extra socks, mittens, gloves, a hat and scarf, and something to cover your ears.
- Guys might want to purchase an insulated protective athletic supporter. Invest in moisture wicking athletic gear that pulls sweat away from your skin.
- Avoid wearing cotton which will absorb sweat, rain, and snow. Cotton tends to stay wet and it increases your chances of developing hypothermia.
Breathing difficulties: While there's no risk that your lungs will freeze from running in cold weather, your airway might not be as resilient. Many people develop exercise or cold-weather-induced asthma during winter months when their airway constricts to prevent frigid air from entering the lungs.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a scarf when you run. The moisture you exhale will be trapped in your scarf and will act as insulation to warm your next inhalation.
- If you have trouble breathing, talk to your physician about getting a fast-acting rescue inhaler or if asthma is a chronic condition for you, use long-acting preventative medication.
Accidents: Slipping, falling, and getting hit by cars are more of a risk during winter runs than they are on bright, sunny, dry ones.
- Make sure you have the right footwear. If you run in the snow, talk to a running shoe specialist about crampons and ice grips you can attach to your normal running shoe.
- Running in the snow is more challenging than running on smooth, dry streets, so be prepared to put in more effort or dial back the distance.
- Improve your ability to see by wearing glare-resistant sunglasses.
- If it's dark outside, use a headlamp or flashlight to avoid tripping on objects in your path.
- Improve your ability to be seen by wearing reflective clothing or a clip-on light.
Stay on well-traveled routes and make sure someone knows when you head out for your run and how long you'll be gone. And don't forget to apply sunscreen on exposed skin. It may be cold outside, but the sun still knows how to burn you.
Sign Up for Free Newsletters
Ask Your Doctor the RIGHT Questions!
the most from your doctor visit.
Emailed right to you!
The Ask Your Doctor email series
may contain sponsored content.
18+, US residents only please.
Explore Original Articles About...
Get the MOST from QualityHealth
- Top Searches
- 1. Arthritis Management: Nature Heals
- 2. 5 Digestive To-Dos
- 3. Men: Should You Shave It or Leave It?
- 4. Today's Top Fitness Trends
- 5. Sugar and Osteoarthritis : The Link
- 6. Can't Afford Your Hospital Bills?
- 7. Stay Energized All Day Long
- 8. Phobias: Who Has Them and Why?
- 9. What If Your EpiPen Fails?
- 10. 5 Costly Medical Billing Mistakes
- 1. Hotter Temperatures Linked To Kidney Stones
- 2. Summer Bug Bites: What to Look For
- 3. Skin Health Advice with Dr. Kenneth Beer
- 4. Summer Safety Tips That Every Parent Needs To Know
- 5. Sugar and Your Immunity System
- 6. Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?
- 7. 5 Super Foods for Spring
- 8. The Hazards of Reusable Bags
- 9. How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs
- 10. Health Tip: Constantly Change Shoes
- 1. 4 Common Treatments for Epilepsy
- 2. What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
- 3. GERD Without Heartburn? It's Possible
- 4. Graston Technique: Can It Work on You?
- 5. Music Therapy Can Help Autism
- 6. 8 Ways to Fight MS-Related Fatigue
- 7. Can You Still Bleed After Menopause?
- 8. Be Your Own Health Care Advocate
- 9. Why Is Syphillis on the Rise?
- 10. Ideal Weight vs. Happy Weight
The material on the QualityHealth Web site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a physician or other qualified health provider. See additional information.