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Don't let the cold weather ruin your workout


We've been telling you how, during the current cold snap in certain parts of the country, it can be dangerous to spend a lot of time outdoors. So we would never suggest heading out to exercise right now if you're in one of those places. But when we are not in a once-in-a-generation storm, there are ways to exercise outdoors in the cold. Of course, you need to make sure you're covered up and protected from the elements. For Life Kit, NPR's Wynne Davis has more.

WYNNE DAVIS, BYLINE: When winter comes around, I really struggle with getting outside to get my runs in. But that's definitely not the case for everyone.

ALISON MARIELLA DESIR: Unpopular opinion - I love running in the cold. It is my absolute favorite time of year.

DAVIS: That's Alison Mariella Desir. She's a mother, an athlete and activist and the author of the book "Running While Black." Her philosophy comes down to the fact that when you start moving, you're going to warm up.

DESIR: Because when you're moving, 50 degrees, it will feel like 70 degrees by the time you get moving.

DAVIS: Let's start out with the basics of what you might need for, say, a 50-degree day, which to some, you know, might not be all that cold.

DESIR: So the air is crisp, but the sun is peeking out. You - I would wear - and bear with me now - I would wear shorts, a short-sleeved shirt that is a wicking material and then a long-sleeved shirt over that. And I would start out very cold, but very quickly, that long sleeve shirt would come off, and I would tie it around my waist, and I would be sweating.

DAVIS: The most important thing here is that the layer closest to your skin is a moisture-wicking material. That's going to help keep you dry and your body temperature where it needs to be. Look for a synthetic fiber here like polyester or nylon or a wool blend. And avoid cotton because it will get wet and stay wet. Now, let's say it's around freezing temperatures. You want to add more layers here.

DESIR: I would wear fleece-lined tights, a wicking short-sleeved shirt. Then I would wear a long-sleeved shirt over that. And I would definitely wear a jacket, a running jacket.

DAVIS: A hat, headband and gloves come in handy, too. Now, if it's really cold out - I'm talking like 30 or below - you should think about adding protection for your face like a neck gaiter. You also want to make sure you have a good pair of wool socks to keep your feet warm and dry. All of these layers that you're building are going to help protect you from conditions like frostbite and hypothermia.

KELECHI OKOROHA: Frostbite is an injury to the body that's caused by freezing. And what happens is when it's cold, your blood flow gets concentrated in your body's core and it leaves other areas like your hands, your feet, your head, your ears, and that becomes vulnerable to frostbite.

DAVIS: That's Dr. Kelechi Okoroha of the Mayo Clinic. Cold skin and a prickling feeling are the beginning symptoms of frostbite. When it starts to get worse, you might see discoloration of the skin or feel some numbness. Now, when it comes to hypothermia, that's when you have an abnormally low body temperature.

OKOROHA: So when you're exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. And so exercising in cold or rainy weather can increase your risk of hypothermia. Some signs and symptoms of hypothermia are things like intense shivering, slurred speech, loss of coordination or even fatigue.

DAVIS: If you recognize signs of either of these, you need to get inside as soon as possible and warm up slowly. The good news is, though, that dressing appropriately can help prevent both of these from happening. And maybe you'll end up loving the cold as much as Desir does.

DESIR: I just love it. I love the cool air on my face. I love the feeling of being one of the only people out there. I love the clothing. I love layers, literally everything.

DAVIS: For NPR News, I'm Wynne Davis.

MARTIN: Life Kit has more tips and tricks to keep you moving this winter. Check them out at Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Wynne Davis is a digital reporter and producer for NPR's All Things Considered.