HCA Midwest Health - March 11, 2022

Don't let chilly weather discourage your outdoor exercise routine. There's an easy way to ensure that you'll stay warm while running that mile or taking a brisk walk. The key to staying warm and dry is by how you layer your clothing.

Effects on your heart

Winter is tougher on patients suffering from heart problems, as the cold weather forces the heart to pump faster to keep your body warm. Chronic heart disease, chronic hypertension and asthma sufferers require extra attention before beginning an outdoor workout regimen. If you suffer from these illnesses, consult with your doctor and decide on the best plan for you. Should you be able to exercise outdoors, look over our guide and make sure you're properly bundled up.

How to layer up

Rule 1: Avoid cotton as your bottom layer. Wearing a cotton shirt or sweatshirt absorbs sweat, but doesn't dry until after you've taken it off. The best bottom layer material for exercise is polypropylene. Next, wear fleece or wool for insulation and then add on a waterproof top layer. It may be trial and error until you decide how thick to wear your layers, but starting out with these types of fabrics is a great start.

Rule 2: Don't forget to protect your hands, head, feet and ears with gloves, ear muffs, hats and thick socks. If it is extremely cold in your area, layer up gloves with a bottom layer of polypropylene gloves and then a wool or fleece pair.

Rule 3: Wear proper protective safety gear (reflective clothing and tennis shoes with good traction) to make sure you stay safe while outside. Also, remember to modify your routine if it's too icy or if weather is inclement. Always be cautious of icy and snowy spots while you're out.

Avoiding frostbite

A main concern of cold weather exercise is the risk of frostbite. If you live in northern states, remember to keep all skin covered while exercising outdoors, especially when the wind chill hits below -18 degrees Fahrenheit. When it's this cold, frostbite can occur in less than 30 minutes. Wind chills above 5 degrees Fahrenheit leave a less than 5% chance of frostbite.

So ready, get set and enjoy your run!

When an unexpected, severe injury or illness occurs, you need high-quality care fast. With 11 emergency rooms (ERs) in our network, HCA Midwest Health is here for you when an emergency situation arises. Our hospital and freestanding ERs provide 24/7 emergency care to patients of all ages with locations throughout Kansas City and its surrounding communities. Learn more at our emergency care page.