Mention that it’s freezing outside, too cold to do anything but run for the door, in the presence of a northerner, and you are bound to be countered with a declaration along the lines of “Ha! This is nothing.” A detailed description of “real” cold will follow, during which your eyes will glaze over and your mind will wander. When he finishes, you’ll turn, look at him and say, “Okay, but it’s still too cold to exercise.” But is it? Can it ever really be too cold to hit the slopes, go for a jog or skate across the pond?
The short answer is no. Despite popular belief, there is no temperature too low for a workout. The frigid air won’t hurt your lungs, as it will be body temperature by the time it reaches them, and if you do experience respiratory problems, you should blame the dryness, instead. Dry air keeps moisture from your lungs, making breathing more difficult and is common in the cold. However, dry air can happen at any temperature. In fact, more people are hurt exercising in the heat than in the cold. Therefore, single-digit and negative temperatures shouldn’t keep you from venturing into the great outdoors. If you’ve got the motivation, you should go for it. But when you do, do so intelligently, for as with anything, there are dangers and they are very real.
Hypothermia and frostbite, the two most severe possibilities, can lead to death and amputation, respectively. In both, your body’s temperature drops well below 98 degrees, wreaking havoc on your health. Thus, it is vital that you take the steps necessary to prevent them. Cover up, wearing mittens (not gloves!), a hat and a scarf to protect your extremities. Dress in layers but not to the point that you are sweating excessively. Profuse perspiration trapped amidst soggy clothing will worsen your situation since the most dangerous combination for hypothermia is wet and cold. Pay attention to the changes in your body; if your skin starts to tingle painfully then numbs, you may have a problem. Don’t over exert yourself, and don’t stop moving. Body heat will make prevention all the more plausible. You can stay active in the cold as long as you stay smart.