Remaining active in cold weather is possible

Published 11:15 am Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Old Man Winter has finally made his appearance in the Bluegrass, coming in hard and fast.

We have been teased by 50 degree days in January, but those seem to be gone, at least until our silly Kentucky weather throws another curveball.

While his return may have you spending more time indoors, it does not mean you have to give up physical activity until warmer weather returns.

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Exercising outdoors during the winter can have benefits in addition to the burned calories. It exposes you to sunlight, which will give you some vitamin D and can help improve your mood.

It can also boost your immune system, which is important during flu and cold season.

Plus, there is no heat or humidity.

With a little preparation, precaution and attention, most people can safely work out in cold weather.

However, some medical conditions such as asthma or heart problems, may not allow you to exercise outdoors during cold weather. Always check with your doctor first.

Check the forecast before venturing outdoors. Remember to check for actual temperature as well as wind chill. Windier days make the actual temperature feel colder.

If the weather is calling for cold rain, ice or snow, consider exercising indoors or waiting to exercise until the system passes. And be cautious of deceptively icy surfaces.

Last week the roads seemed fine to drive on after the temperatures plummeted, but the sidewalks and parking lots were like an ice rink.

If you think it is safe to venture outside to exercise, make sure to wear shoes with good traction and avoid walking or running over areas that appear slick.

When exercising outside on cold days, make sure you wear light layers.

The layer closest to your skin should have some moisture-wicking fabric to keep sweat to a minimum as it is going to make you feel colder.

Avoid cotton fabrics as they tend to trap moisture.

Try to cover as much of your skin as possible. Wear a toboggan or hat, scarf and gloves. You may also want to consider wearing thermal or double layers of socks to keep your feet warm.

Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia.

Even though it’s cold, you need to keep your body hydrated. Dry, cold air can cause you to become dehydrated and because it is cold, symptoms of dehydration are even harder to recognize. Drink even if you are not thirsty.

If it’s too cold or wet to exercise outside, you can still work out indoors.

Check out indoor walking areas, like the track at Parks and Recreation.

Dancing is also a great way to burn calories in your home. My kiddos love a dance party and I admit it is nice to turn up the tunes and let loose. We definitely have lots of laughs while getting in some aerobic activity.

Making sure to take the stairs instead of an elevator is another way to sneak in indoor exercise as well as active housework like vacuuming or sweeping.

For more ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine, contact the Clark County Extension office.

Also, consider joining the 2019 Clark County Wellness Challenge. The kickoff will be Feb. 27 at Winchester-Clark County Parks and Recreation, 15 Wheeler Drive, from 5 to 7 p.m. See the businesses, fitness centers and eateries that will be participating and get registered. And make sure to visit the Cooperative Extension table and say, “Hi.”

Shonda Johnston is the Clark County Extension agent for family and consumer sciences. She can be reached at 859-744-4682 or by email at