While it is important to stay active year-round to maintain a healthy lifestyle, there are certain things to keep in mind to remain safe and avoid injury when exercising during the cold, winter months. Hypothermia is a serious condition to watch for and catch early. It occurs when the body’s temperature drops below 95 degrees, and if not treated, can result in death. To prevent hypothermia, stay dry, wear proper clothing (such as coats, gloves and hats), and take frequent breaks from the cold to warm up. Shivering is one of the early signs of hypothermia and should be your cue to get out of the cold and let your body recover before continuing activity. As hypothermia progresses, the signs will be harder to recognize, which is why it’s important to act quickly.
For those who suffer from asthma or a respiratory disorder, exercising in the cold can cause them to experience shortness of breath, wheeziness or other asthma symptoms. This is known as exercise-induced or cold-induced asthma and is caused by the cold, dry air. If you experience these symptoms, talk to your primary care physician about preventative treatments.
The cold weather puts extra stress on your body, and warming up before an outdoor activity in the cold will help prevent injury. If you’ll be outside in icy conditions, be careful not to slip and fall. If you need to walk across an icy area, use a wide stance and shuffle across. Avoid falling whenever possible, but if you do slip, don’t try to break your fall with your arms or you might hurt your arm or shoulder.
Fortunately, our community has an exceptional team of sports medicine specialists, primary care physicians and other related healthcare professionals within the Cone Health network that are dedicated to educating individuals about safety and treating cold weather-related injuries.
Dr. Evan Corey is a sports medicine specialist at Cone Health Primary Care at MedCenter Kernersville and a member of Cone Health Medical Group. Dr. Corey received his Bachelor of Science in biology from Hampden-Sydney College in 2004 and he completed medical school at The University of North Carolina School of Medicine in 2010. Dr. Corey completed his residency at Cone Health in 2013 and a sports medicine fellowship at the Cone Health Sports Medicine Center in 2014.