Physical Therapy Advice: Exercising in the Cold

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show
A person cross country skiing across a frozen lake

We talk with our physical therapists about how to stay active in the winter months. We learn how to stay safe in the cold and the benefits of working out in low temperatures.

Do you have a winter exercise routine you enjoy? How do you warm up before working out in the cold?

Featured in this Show

  • Physical Therapists Share Tips For Winter Workouts

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that it is more difficult to follow through with your exercise routine in the winter. The eggnog is too enticing, and the freezing, rarely sunny outside world is too foreboding.

    But if you do manage to make your way out of your Snuggie and out the door, Lori Thein Brody and Jill Thein-Nissenbaum, physical therapists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, shared some tips with WPR’s “The Larry Meiller Show” on how to exercise correctly this winter — whether it’s inside or outside.

    Dress For The Weather

    When Thein Brody goes for a jog in the winter, she wears a thermal hoodie with a light jacket, two pairs of socks (a thin wool pair under her normal athletic socks), two pairs of gloves, and a knit headband to keep her ears warm. The layers make it so she can take off the outer layer of gloves and jacket, and put down her hood as she warms up.

    Layers are crucial because they allow you to stay warm when you first start out and not overheat as your workout intensifies and you begin to sweat.

    You might also want to consider different footwear to prevent falling and getting injured in the snow and ice.

    Thein Brody and Thein-Nissenbaum suggested Yaktrax for the snow. Yaktrax are strap-on cleats for your shoes that help create traction between your foot and the snow. Thein Brody and Thein-Nissenbaum warned against using them on asphalt or the sidewalk as they can be slippery. If you’re going to be on an icy surface, the two suggested Icebugs, which are boots with studs on the bottoms.

    When you’re dressing to exercise in the winter, be sure consider the wind chill as much or more than the temperature.

    Warm Up And Cool Down

    It’s important to have good circulation before working out in low temperatures. Thein Brody and Thein-Nissenbaum suggested warming up in your garage to get used to the temperature before heading outside where it’s even colder. Jogging in place, jumping rope, doing jumping jacks or other calisthenic exercises are all good ways to improve circulation before a cold weather workout.

    When you get back from your workout, you’re not done. Stretching after working out in cold weather is a good idea, the two said. If you feel pulled to get into the hot shower first, that’s OK — just be sure to stretch your limbs as soon as you can after exercise.

    If You Really Can’t Stand The Cold, Consider Indoor Exercise

    Don’t wanna shell out the money for a gym membership? No problem. There are countless free at-home workout videos online for everything you could imagine — yoga, dance, kickboxing, basic cardio and much more. You should also be able to find at-home workout videos at the library.

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Luisa de Vogel Producer
  • Lori Thein Brody Guest
  • Jill Thein-Nissenbaum Guest