News | Published January 21, 2014 | Written by Tara Shapich, PA-C, internal medicine, Mount Nittany Physician Group

Tips for exercising outdoors in cold weather

Exercising outdoors in cold weather can be invigorating, but there are a few necessary precautions to keep in mind so you remain safe and healthy.


  • Plan ahead of time. If you plan to run outdoors, choose routes that are cleared of snow and ice. Always tell a friend or family member where you’re running and what time you plan to return.
  • Warm-up adequately before exercising outdoors, especially in cold weather.
  • Dress appropriately. Wear moisture-wicking layers against your skin, and try a scarf or facemask if breathing in the cold air irritates your lungs. Also remember appropriate shoes.
  • Remember your extremities. Wear gloves on your hands and a hat over your ears, as these areas are prone to frostbite in extreme temperatures.
  • Grab a buddy. Just getting outside can be a challenge, but with a buddy, you’re more likely to stick to your workout plan.
  • Be flexible with your workout time. In the harsh winter months, you may need to wait until the warmest part of the day to exercise outdoors, even if you prefer exercising in the morning.
  • Stay visible when outdoors. With shorter days in the winter, make sure to wear reflective clothing if you workout close to dawn or dusk.


  • Don’t spend too long on your cool-down outdoors. Instead, go inside to stretch.
  • Don’t forget to stay hydrated. Even though you may not sweat as much or feel as thirsty when the temperature drops, you still need to hydrate properly.
  • Don’t forget the sunscreen and sunglasses. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can skip the SPF or eye protection, especially because snow can lead to sunburn and glares. Remember your lip balm, too!
  • Don’t wear cotton next to your skin, as it can retain sweat, making you colder.
  • Don’t forget to check the forecast before you leave the house. Rain or extreme wind chills can make outdoor exercise unsafe.
  • Don’t be afraid to take your exercise routine indoors, especially in subfreezing temperatures. Prolonged exposure can lead to frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Don’t worry so much about your pace. If you’re a runner, you’re likely going to be slower in the winter. But don’t worry; summer isn’t far away!