Snowy Safety for Sporty People: Staying Active and Safe Through Winter

If you live an active lifestyle, or just want to enjoy nature, the cold-weather conditions of winter may seem to present a number of frustrations.  But, it doesn’t have to slow you down.  We’re lucky in West Virginia to have a wealth of opportunities to be active outdoors, even in the “dead” of winter.  However, as the air turns chilly and the snowflakes begin to fall, a number of new safety concerns arise which we must consider when planning outdoor activities.  Check out these great tips for protecting yourself from the elements this winter:

Exercising in the Cold

  • Wear thin layers that draw sweat away from your body.  Avoid cotton, and make sure that your outer layer is breathable.
  • Keep your head, hands, and feet warm.  Up to 70 percent of your body heat may escape through them, so this is crucial to avoid chilling.  
  • Don’t overdress.  This may seem contradictory to the former points, but you’ll be generating a lot of heat, especially if you’re jogging or running.  A good guideline is to dress for weather that is 20 degrees warmer than it actually is; you should be very slightly chilly when you set off.
  • Stay inside if the temperature or wind chill falls below -20 degrees. Provided that you dress appropriately and prepare, you can exercise in pretty cold temperatures, but if the temperature or wind chill falls that far below zero, it can be dangerous to work out outside.


Cold-weather Camping (Especially useful for you hunters!)

  • Set up camp somewhere protected from the wind.
  • Warm up, then bed down.  Go for a brisk walk or do some jumping jacks.  This will maximize the warmth in your sleeping bag and keep you safer and more comfortable through the night.
  • Make sure there is plenty of insulation between you and the ground.
  • Keep your mouth and nose outside the sleeping bag.  You will expel a lot of moisture when you sleep and keeping it trapped in your bag will lower the temperature.  Use a scarf and hat instead.


Make Sure You Always:

  • Keep hydrated.  The cold, dry air will draw moisture from you.
  • Eat high calorie foods (not just sugary ones though).  Believe it or not, this will help keep you warmer.  A calorie is a unit of heat energy, and if you’ll be in the cold for long periods of time, you’ll be using a lot of it!
  • Tell someone where you are going.  Whether it’s just for a run or on an extended trip, make sure someone knows where you will be and can call for help if you are not back by the expected time.
  • Protect your eyes from glare.  Snow drifts may not scream eye care to you, but the sun and glare from the powder may present just as much of a hazard to your eyes as a bright, sunshiny summer day.


Safety is the most important concern in any outdoor activity, especially during winter.  Don’t risk your health if it’s too cold out, but if and when you do plan outdoor activities, be sure to address the safety concerns of you and your party.  Until next time, stay safe, have fun, and let it snow!

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