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Tips for exercising outdoors during the winter

While many people choose to avoid the cold by exercising indoors on new or used exercise equipment such as a treadmill during the winter months, others brave the elements outdoors. But experts say those who choose to venture outside during the cold weather need to be prepared to ensure their safety and a successful workout.

One of the most important considerations when exercising outdoors during the winter is your clothing. Dressing in layers is recommended, as you can remove one when hot.
According to Business Today, a base layer made of a synthetic material that wicks moisture away from the body is one of the best options for cold weather workouts. Although cotton may be a traditional choice, it can become moist and cause you to actually get colder.

It's also important to remember to wear a hat to keep your head and ears warm as well as gloves or mittens for your hands. The publication reports that as body temperatures fall, the blood supply to the extremities including fingers, ears, nose and toes is cut off. Covering these areas can help keep you warm throughout your workout.

Warming up is especially important when it's cold outside as well. This not only helps your body adjust to the temperature, but reduces the risk of being injured.

Remember that cold air is denser than warmer air so you'll likely need a few weeks to get used to it.

"Running in cold temps causes the heart to work harder," exercise scientist Joe McConkey recently told The Boston Globe. "This is good for the lungs, muscles and nervous system as they are now getting more circulation and quicker stimulation, but you are also using more energy to stay warm. So you can feel fast and energetic for the first five to 20 minutes, but then quickly feel depleted. Do not push the pace or otherwise test yourself during cold weather until you have run at least three weeks consistently in this environment."

Staying hydrated is important, even when it's cold outside and you don't feel hot or thirsty. Experts say monitoring the color of your urine can help you determine if you're drinking enough water. It should be pale yellow, according to US News & World Report.

Increasing your carbohydrate intake is also advised for those exercising during the cold winter months.

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