If you are accustomed to exercising outdoors during the spring and summer months, you may need to re-think how you approach outdoor exercise if it turns extremely cold.  One key suggestion includes wearing synthetic clothes instead of cotton.  Cotton will help hold sweat next to the skin, which is great in hot weather, but uncomfortable & risky when cold.  Use layers of clothing to help regulate your body temperature.  New quick-drying materials are now available including polypropylene which can wick sweat away from the skin and actually help it evaporate so that you are dryer and warmer.

Also helpful is covering your head and hands to help protect you from frostbite.  Frostbite is a serious threat at freezing temperatures.  If the weather is rainy and you are not using the proper gear, the risk for hypothermia is much higher especially if you get wet; so consider staying indoors to do a work out.  Unfortunately, a common mistake is wearing too much clothing for outdoor exercise, to begin to sweat profusely, and then get chilled.  Dress to the level that as if you were sitting outside, you are slightly cool or “under-dressed”.  Exercising generates lots of heat, which will help keep you warm.

The direction of the wind is another  factor when exercising in hot versus cold weather.  If you are going on an ‘out and back’ course outdoors, consider working against the wind first part of the exercise in cold weather, but with the wind if the weather is hot.  For instance, if you are walking fast, jogging, running, skating or Nordic skiing, you may want to go against the wind first, if you can.  If you are able to come back with the wind, you are less likely to get chilled- as opposed to turning into a strong wind when your clothes may be soaked from sweating.  Conversely, in the hot weather, the headwind after you have been pushing hard helps to keep you from overheating.

Keep in mind; you can lose significant amounts of water through sweating and breathing, whether in the heat or the cold weather.  Hydrate well before, during and after you work out whether the weather is hot or cold.

Hopefully, you can enjoy an outdoor workout, but planning your workouts and using the right clothing is wise before you go out into extreme weather.  Consider making the workout shorter if the weather is adverse or if the risks for cold or heat injury are high.