When you take proper precautions and plan appropriately, outdoor exercise during the winter months can be safe and enjoyable. Consider these tips before you head out the door.

Tip #1 : Dress in layers

Even when it’s cold outside, your body will warm up throughout the exercise, so it’s crucial to remove layers of clothing to prevent overheating. Your first layer should be a light, sweat-wicking, synthetic material to help keep you dry from sweat. Stay away from cotton. Your next layer should be something that will keep you warm, such as a fleece jacket. You can even add a third layer, such as a nylon jacket, to protect you from snow, wind and rain.

Tip #2: Wear A Hat and Gloves

Your body loses much of it’s heat from your head, so keep it covered. Cover your fingers with gloves for the same reason, especially if you’re biking.

Tip #3: Warm Up Your Muscles

Warming up before a workout is always important, but it’s especially important during colder months when your muscles take a bit longer to warm up. If you can, do a light warm-up indoors before heading out in the cold. If space is limited inside, jog in place or try some other light aerobic activity for 5 minutes.

Tip #4: Stay Hydrated

Dehydration is not just a summertime concern. Remember that despite the cooler temperatures, your body is still working up a sweat. Winter environments are also less humid, so you lose moisture with each breath. Replenish fluids before and during your workout.

Tip #5: Take Safety Precautions

The winter skies aren’t as bright, so dressing in light, visible layers is imperative. You should also be mindful of the ground beneath you and be vigilant for “black ice” that could cause a slip and subsequent injury. Lastly, always check the temperature and weather conditions before heading outdoors to prepare for those unexpected weather changes. When the weather is too cold for an outdoor workout, you can still hit the gym, an indoor pool, an indoor climbing wall, or a walk at the mall.

With a little planning, you can continue to enjoy exercise and maintain your healthy lifestyle, even in the colder winter months.