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Johns Hopkins Health - Avoid Injury with Five Winter Exercise Tips

Winter 2011
Issue No. 11

Avoid Injury with Five Winter Exercise Tips

Date: January 20, 2011

man and woman carrying sled in snow

Before you head outdoors to shovel the sidewalk or ski cross-country, make sure you plan ahead. Sameer Dixit, M.D., a sports medicine specialist and an assistant professor in orthopedic surgery and medicine at Johns Hopkins, says people often forget to prepare for dropping temperatures, wind and precipitation, as well as how these factors affect their comfort and health when they’re active in cold weather.

“The main issue with doing activities in the cold is hypothermia,” Dixit says.

Mild hypothermia causes dizziness, fatigue, increased breathing and heart rate, and poor judgment. If you don’t go inside to warm up, mild hypothermia may lead to severe hypothermia, hallucinations and even a profound coma.

Avoid the risk of injury or illness by bundling up properly and preparing your body for outdoor activity:

1. Make sure you are well-hydrated, and eat frequent meals to replenish your fat stores and glycogen.

2. Give yourself adequate layering. Wear an inner layer of hydropolyester to wick moisture from your body. Use a middle layer of fleece or other insulating synthetic. Make sure your outer layer is windproof and waterproof.

3. Wear a hat and mittens. Most heat loss comes from your head and hands.

4. Remember to wear goggles if you’re skiing to protect your eyes from corneal freezing.

5. Do your exercise warm-up inside first, and make sure you’re conditioned to working or exercising in the cold.

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