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A Guide to Winter Running

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There are numerous things that need to be taken into account when considering a winter running routine. The colder temperatures and snow flurries associated with the winter season result in increased health risks. In order to stay safe and still enjoy the benefits of winter running, keep these following tips in mind:

Dress Properly for Winter Running

Maintaining the right level of body heat when running in the cold can be difficult. To minimize your chances for windburn, muscle cramps and other negative effects, consider dressing in layers. For best results, start with a base layer of anti-sweat material such as polypropylene. Such materials reduce the buildup of sweat around your body, which results in reduced wetness for improved heat retention. For outer layers, fabrics such as polar fleece, Gore-Tex and nylon are recommended.

Wearing a knit cap, mittens and warm socks can also help reduce heat loss from the body. In general, however, you should avoid overdressing. As a good rule of thumb, dress as if it is 20 degrees warmer outside than it actually is.

Wear Reflective Running Gear in the Winter

Snow flurries, reduced hours of sun and other factors make you less visible to car traffic. As a result, it is highly recommended that you wear reflective clothing that enhances your visibility to others. In general, it is recommended that you run during lighter (and warmer) hours of the day. However, if you can only run in the early morning or night, then you may also want to use a flashing light as a clothing accessory.

Warm Up and Cool Down Before Winter Running

Running in the cold increases the potential for muscle cramps and joint strain. To minimize the potential for this, stretching and other techniques should be employed both before and after running.

Consider Running at the Gym During Winter

Oftentimes, it is best to skip outdoor running in the winter for the safety and warmth of an indoor treadmill. Gym memberships are relatively affordable and often operate on a month-by-month basis. This means that you can acquire a seasonal pass to your local gym, and close your account as spring approaches if you decide to return to the streets. Regardless of whether you join a gym or not, running outside is not recommended when temperatures are below zero degrees or the wind chill is under minus 20 degrees.

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