Unseasonably warm winter days have been inviting people to outdoor activities. Winter is not over yet. We will see below-freezing temperatures again. Cold weather should not be an excuse for staying indoors.
Chilly temperatures may not be what is keeping us indoors. Our attitude concerning below freezing temperatures often is the true culprit that limits outdoor winter fun. Inactivity and eating more changes our metabolism.
People dealing with certain health issues, especially diabetes, require exercise and weight management to manage their condition. Hibernating during the winter and taking a few months away from physical fitness goals can end up backfiring.
Many people living in colder climates consider winter as a time to be appreciated and enjoyed. A heartfelt adage from Norway declares that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. This saying has nothing to do with fashion trends.
One of the best recommendations is to not bundle up too much. Activity can cause the body to sweat, even in cold weather. As perspiration evaporates it pulls heat from the body and can make the body seem colder.
Dress in layers to stay warm or to be peeled off, if necessary. A thin layer of a synthetic material like a polyester fabric next to the body draws moisture away from the skin. Adding a layer of wool or fleece acts as insulation. Some may need more insulation than others. Top off the outfit with a breathable waterproof jacket to protect from the winter elements.
Polypropylene gloves and sock liners will keep fingers and toes toasty. A second pair of gloves or socks of wool will soak up any sweat. Do not put cotton next to your skin. It will absorb sweat and keep your hands and feet cold. Purchasing boots or winter exercise shoes a half a size larger will allow for double socks.
Head coverings will retain much of your body heat. Hats, ski masks, and scarves protect your face and ears from sun and windburn. Be creative but wear them.
Chemical heat packs to warm hands and feet are handy in the winter. If you plan on being outdoors for an extended period of time, place a heat pack at the small of your back on your shirt over your spine and another at the neckline of the shirt where the tags of your jacket are located. These packs will keep your blood warm and you will be more comfortable despite freezing temperatures.
Use the buddy system. Always carry identification, especially when temperatures are falling. Tell someone about your plans or your route. Give yourself a time limit and pay attention to the local forecast. Stay safe.
Remember movement and activity generates heat and burns calories. Keep moving even if it requires stomping in place or waving your arms. If you must stand still in the cold, stand on cardboard or something wooden to insulate your feet. Dress warm, stay active, and have fun outdoors.
Bobbie Randall is a registered, licensed dietitian, certified diabetes educator in Wooster, Ohio. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.