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Winterize Your Workouts: Preventing Frostbite

If you refuse to give up your outdoors runs because it's cold, or if you love to ski, board, or snowshoe, then you need to take some precautions to protect your skin from the bitter temperatures.
Frostbite happens when your skin and body tissues are exposed to cold temperatures for an extended period of time. Your fingers, toes, nose, and ears are the most susceptible. Aside from causing pain, you could suffer permanent damage to frostbitten body parts. The worst case scenario is that if the blood vessels die, amputation may be necessary.

Now that I have your undivided attention, let me share some tips on keeping your body protected from the elements:

  • Stay covered. Wear a hat or headband to protect your ears, warm mittens for your hands, warm socks and waterproof shoes for your feet, and a scarf or mask around your face to protect your nose. You may look like the abominable snowman, but at least your skin will be safe.
  • Wear layers. The inner layer should be made of a wicking material such as polypropylene or merino wool. The outer layer should be loose and waterproof to keep your body heat trapped in and prevent your clothes from getting damp.
  • Hand warmers are perfect if you'll be out for a few hours. You can place them in your boots or gloves, but I also prefer keeping a set in my jacket pockets so I can hold them over my ears or face if they get too chilly.

I have two more tips, so read more.

  • Don't drink alcohol before heading outside. It may prevent your body from realizing it's getting too cold.
  • Be on the lookout for initial symptoms of frostbite. You skin may turn red, blue, or white, and you may feel pain. If this happens, get out of the cold as soon as possible and warm up.

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