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  • Steven Reinberg
  • Posted December 4, 2019

Run Smart This Winter -- Here's How

Cold, wet winter weather doesn't have to put the kibosh on your running. Just follow some basic advice to help you maintain your exercise program safely.

Before you head outside, check the forecast for temperature, wind and moisture. This is key in planning a safe winter workout, said Julie Ruane, a nurse practitioner in the sports medicine division at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

"Wind chill extremes can make exercising outdoors unsafe," Ruane said in a medical center news release.

Here she shares some other tips for running through the winter:

Do a proper muscle warmup. "When it's cold, your muscles are tighter, less flexible and at a higher risk for injury," Ruane said.

Muscles lose heat and contract in cold, which can reduce the range of motion in your joints, making the muscles work harder.

To counter the cold, do a longer warmup than usual, Ruane said. "Be sure to stretch and cool down again at the end of a workout," she said. "When a muscle is warm, it has better blood flow and stretches more easily."

Dress for the cold. "There is a happy medium between bundling up and not wearing enough," Ruane said. "Listen to your body -- you will want to find the balance between keeping yourself warm while not losing too much fluid through excess sweating."

Your best choice: layers that you can take off as you heat up. Also, be sure to keep your hands, toes, nose and ears warm, Ruane said.

"A hat, headband, face mask, mittens and proper socks are important in the colder temps," she said.

Keep hydrated and eat plenty of carbs. Drinking water is as important in winter as in summer.

"Even though you might not sweat as much, your body is still burning through its stored carbohydrates, especially in colder weather," Ruane said. "Drinking carbs such as a sports beverage can help. After you exercise, foods high in carbs and proteins, such as warm oatmeal and nuts or hot chili, are also helpful, specifically for muscle recovery."

Be alert. "Be sure to watch your step," Ruane said. "The ground can be slick, and black ice can sneak up on you."

Finding a running route that is well-lit and familiar to you is important. "We tell our avid runners that it's OK to be out there, just be smart," Ruane added.

More information

Rush University has more on running in the winter.

SOURCE: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, news release, Nov. 22, 2019
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