Skip to main content

Military Health System

Ask the Doc: Working out in a Winter Wonderland

Image of A Soldier assigned to 10th Combat Aviation Brigade spends part of his lunch break getting a quick workout on the ice. So far, 2021 has seen the type of North Country winter weather that is making the Fort Drum ice rink a hot spot for outdoor recreation. Since the rink opened on Jan. 25, it has seen more activity in the first 10 days than all of last season with nearly 800 skaters in attendance. (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs). A Soldier assigned to 10th Combat Aviation Brigade spends part of his lunch break getting a quick workout on the ice. So far, 2021 has seen the type of North Country winter weather that is making the Fort Drum ice rink a hot spot for outdoor recreation. Since the rink opened on Jan. 25, it has seen more activity in the first 10 days than all of last season with nearly 800 skaters in attendance. (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Winter Safety | Ask The Doc

Dear Doc: Although my gym has opened back up, I’m still a little hesitant to return because of the recent spikes in COVID cases in my area. I’ve been getting creative with my home workouts, and I’d really like to be outside more, but it’s so cold! I want to bundle up, but I don’t want to overdo it and get overheated. Do you have any recommendations for dressing for outdoor workouts in the winter?

–Working Out in a Winter Wonderland

Illustration of a male face with the words "Ask the Doc"

Dear WOiaWW: I can assure you that you’re not the only one struggling with this! Staying physically fit isn’t just important for readiness; it’s a lifesaver for people fighting off both winter and COVID blues. I talked to Army Lt. Col. Chad Hulsopple, assistant professor of family medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and director of the National Capital Consortium’s Sports Medicine Fellowship, and here’s what he had to say:


When the temperature starts to drop outdoors and the days begin to shorten, many people turn to indoor exercise. Some adventurous athletes enjoy extreme cold-weather activities such as a polar plunge or running 350 miles in subzero temperatures during the Iditarod Trail Invitational. However, most people are not that adventurous and just want to maintain their regular exercise and can struggle to maintain their exercise routines while indoors. Outdoor exercise routines can still be enjoyed in cold weather environments with the appropriate pre-planning and exercise precautions.

Icy, snowy, and wet conditions can result in rapid cooling of the body and injuries from slips and falls. Avoid overdressing and materials with cotton, which can result in excessive sweating and sweat retention, respectively. The body can lose heat 25 times faster with wet skin. A good rule of thumb is to be slightly cool when starting your exercise to avoid overheating. Multiple layers allow temperature control by removing and adding layers throughout your workout to maintain comfort.

Also consider waterproof breathable shoes and gaiters to decrease the likelihood of getting your feet wet. There are commercially available traction cleats for additional grip on snow and ice.

Prevent large amounts of heat loss through the head, neck, and extremities with stocking caps, gloves, and moisture-wicking socks. Neck gaiters and balaclavas can help prevent heat loss and skin exposure of the face and neck. Some cold-weather environments might require thicker socks with insulating and moisture-wicking properties. You might need to increase your shoe size to accommodate these socks.

A social media graphic on winter safety showing a service member in extreme cold with frost on his face and head/face covering.

Consider at least three loose clothing layers – moisture-wicking base layer, insulating mid-layer, and a breathable wind and waterproof outer layer.  

Cold weather injuries can include hypothermia, frostbite, and non-freezing cold weather injuries. Many of these conditions can occur in temperatures above freezing due to an individual’s skin becoming wet.

Take all precautions and monitor the wind chill index to determine the relative risk of these injuries before venturing outside in the cold weather. If you experience a tingling or numbness, skin color changes, mental status changes, excessive shivering, and/or poor or uncontrolled body movements, these can be signs of cold-weather injuries, and you need to seek immediate medical assistance and a warm shelter. Do not stay in the cold weather and avoid re-exposing yourself to cold weather once in a warm environment.


WOiaWW, I hope this helps you make some wardrobe choices that will keep you warm – but not too warm – and makes you feel a little better about getting your workouts in during the winter. Spring will be here soon enough.

Until then…take care out there!

–Doc

You also may be interested in...

JRTC, Fort Polk promote health, fitness for civilian workforce

Article Around MHS
9/23/2021
Luewana Hannon (left), community ready and resilient integrator, provides information to Georgia Louis (right) during the education and information fair at the Join Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk Army Community Service, Sept. 20.

The Civilian Fitness and Health Promotions Program hosted an education and information fair at the Join Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk Army Community Service, Sept. 20.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness

As Fitness Tests Resume, Troops Seek Post-COVID Exercise Routines

Article
8/31/2021
Military personnel physically training

Keeping fit during pandemic proves hard for some.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

How Good Diet and Exercise Prevent Injury and Disease

Article
8/30/2021
Photo of group doing pushups.

A proper diet and exercise regimen can ward off disease and aid in maintaining your health.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Injury Prevention | Nutritional Fitness

AJ-Maste Yoga: Tips for a Healthy Deployment

Article
7/13/2021
Military personnel doing a yoga pose

Yoga comes in many forms and fashions, and has proven health benefits.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Total Force Fitness

Ask the Doc: Fitness Freaking Out

Article
5/26/2021
Integrating healthy snacks like fruit into kid’s diets will teach them healthy eating habits. September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sabrina Fine)

Dear Doc: It seems like every time I go to the commissary, my daughter, 6, and son, 7, tend to gravitate toward the sugary cereals and frozen pizzas, and always want candy bars and sodas at the checkout. As far as I know, and as has been proven by their regularly scheduled check-ups, they are both in great health. The mother in me wants to give them what they want, but the former college athlete and current fitness freak in me is afraid that this might become a problem. For me, eating healthy has become a normal part of my life, and I've come to enjoy things that are healthy and taste good. Aside from tricking them, what can I do to get my kids to eat (and enjoy) more healthy foods? — Fitness Freaking Out

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Ask The Doc

Feb Theme Cover v2

Infographic
5/21/2021
Feb Theme Cover v2

Social media graphic on healthy heart for body and soul with two people running and talking

Recommended Content:

Winter Safety

Total Force Fitness cogs Physical

Infographic
5/21/2021
Total Force Fitness cogs Physical

Social media graphic, Physical Fitness and Your Health, has heart logo, Spiritual Fitness Shuttlecock image, Total Force Fitness Logo and MHS logo.

Recommended Content:

Winter Safety

Winter Heart v3

Infographic
5/21/2021
Winter Heart v3

Social Media infographic on Winter Heart Safety with thermometer. Winter Heart Safety: Did you know? Cold weather can cause blood vessels to constrict, making the heart work harder to pump. Strenuous activity out in the cold should be approached with caution, especially if you are not used to physical activity. Avoid cold weather triggers. Listen to your body

Recommended Content:

Winter Safety | Heart Health Toolkit | Winter Safety

Winter Safety

Infographic
5/21/2021
Winter Safety

Social Media Graphic on Winter Safety with Service Member shoveling snow. Winter Safety: Whether shoveling the walk, or building a shelter during winter training exercises, proper gear prevents injury in extreme weather, and lessens the risk of angina, or chest pain, during strenuous cold weather activity

Recommended Content:

Winter Safety | Heart Health Toolkit | Winter Safety

Winter Safety Prime v1

Infographic
5/21/2021
Winter Safety Prime v1

Social Media Graphic on Winter Safety with Service Member skiing in the snow. Winter Safety: Exercise Safely in Extreme Cold

Recommended Content:

Winter Safety | Heart Health Toolkit | Winter Safety

Do sports / energy drinks enhance individual performance?

Article
4/12/2021
Military health personnel wearing face mask discussing food options

While there are many energy sports drinks are available, their overall value varies.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness

Occupational Therapy Month highlights pros who give everyday help

Article
4/6/2021
Military health personnel wearing face mask attending occupational therapy

April is Occupational Therapy Month, a chance to highlight a profession that helps people to accomplish the everyday tasks they need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities.

Recommended Content:

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention | Physical Fitness | April

Training for a healthy heart can improve overall health

Article
2/22/2021
Military personnel wearing a mask exercising in the gym

Service members must be heart healthy to perform optimally throughout their military careers.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Physical Fitness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Heart Health

Total Force Fitness Reintroduction

Video
2/17/2021
Total Force Fitness Reintroduction

The Military Health System is reintroducing Total Force Fitness. The Total Force Fitness concept focuses on a service member’s entire health throughout their career, connecting eight dimensions of fitness to optimize health, performance, and readiness holistically.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Environmental Fitness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Spiritual Fitness | Psychological Fitness | Social Fitness | Financial Fitness | Mobile Apps

Ask the Doc: Trying to Be Heart Smart

Article
2/15/2021
Snow covers the trees around J. Edward Roush Lake, Huntington, Ind.

Dear Doc: I can’t speak for everyone, but I know where I live, we’ve still got a month or so of extreme cold weather left. Following the advice from your last column, I’m pushing through with my outdoor workouts. While I am staying warm, I’ve noticed that I get tired quicker than I would when it’s warm outside. I’ve also heard that your heart must work harder when you’re working out outside during the winter. How can I make sure I’m not risking my heart health to keep up my routine? –-Trying to be Heart Smart

Recommended Content:

Winter Safety | Heart Health | Ask The Doc
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 61 - 75 Page 5 of 6
Refine your search
Last Updated: August 16, 2021
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery