Winter Workout Safety

Michigan winters mean snow, ice, freezing temperatures and darker days.

Even though staying active during these conditions may not seem ideal, there are many health benefits, both physical and mental, to working out during the winter months. Of course, adding snow and ice to a workout routine presents additional challenges and health risks.

Before you step outside, keep these health and safety tips in mind:

  • Prepare for the cold. Before you walk out the door, make sure you take necessary precautions. Know the weather and dress accordingly to avoid frostbite. Wear sunscreen to protect against UV rays and drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Wear the right shoes. Shoes that are insulated and have a rubber bottom are ideal for slippery conditions. As you walk outside in your rubber-bottom shoes, take smaller steps- it will reduce your risk of falls. To help prevent the buildup of snow and ice, spread deicer around the sidewalks and driveways before, during or after snowfall.
  • Know the differences in ice strengths. If you plan to take advantage of ice to go ice skating or play hockey on a backyard pond, make sure it’s safe. According to the DNR, fresh, clear ice with a blueish tint is the strongest. The DNR warns that ice under snow is almost always weaker than exposed ice. Avoid patches covered in snow and/or slush; that is a sign the ice is no longer freezing. Most importantly, proceed with caution. Ice can change thickness and strength quickly.
  • Wear a helmet when sledding, skiing or snowboarding. Winter sports usually involve sliding down a slippery slope. To avoid head injuries, be sure to wear a helmet as you slide down the hill.
  • Pick a safe spot to work out. If the winter activity involves sliding or skating, make sure the area is free of obstacles that may cause injury. Fences, trees and poles all pose dangers to the individual working out.

Additionally, certain health conditions may worsen when exercising outdoors. Before you head out, consult a doctor to make sure you are physically prepared to take on winter exercises.

Now that you know how to be safe outdoors, bundle up and get your best winter workout in!

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Photo credit: Geber 86

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