Doctors weigh in on exercising in cold weather

Pushing yourself away from the holiday dinner table doesn’t have to be the only exercise you do during the cold months ahead. There are safe ways to stay fit when Jack Frost is nipping at your nose.

“You can exercise year round if you’re dressed appropriately,” said Robert Reeve, MD, Sports Medicine.

In the colder months, Dr. Reeve suggests wearing clothes that do not retain moisture and dressing in layers.

The doctor also recommends wearing a head covering that goes over the ears to cut down on the risk of frostbite.

The symptoms of frostbite are:

  • pain or tingling in an extremity (fingers, toes, nose or ears)
  • numbing or losing feeling
  • tough, white or grayish skin

“If you experience any of these symptoms, get in and get warmed up,” Dr. Reeve said. “Don’t rub the area because that can cause more damage. Use warm, moist compresses like towels.”


Another way to keep your body safe during outdoor exercising is to wear reflective clothing.

“I have some outer layers with brightly reflective 3M trim, that creates a large reflective surface and really lights up in cars’ headlights,” said T. Keller Matthews, III, M.D. “I also have a headlight for my bike helmet, and a camper’s headlight for my forehead that I use when walking or running.”

Although safety comes first when exercising in cold weather, Dr. Matthews said working out through the winter months can also give you a sense of accomplishment.

“One of the greatest joys of cold weather exercise is realizing that I am committed,” Dr. Matthews said. “When I have returned from an outing on a cold, crisp day, I know that I have added fuel to my furnace of personal motivation.”

Dr. Reeve adds that if you want to look fit by the bathing suit months, don’t stop your routine when the weather turns cold.

“If you keep exercising through the winter, you’ll be looking good by spring.”

About the author

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Jessa McClure holds a degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, TX, where she is currently an adviser for student publications. She has been a writer in the health care field since 2009.

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Doctors weigh in on exercising in cold weather