Staying Safe While Exercising in The Cold New York Winters


One of my favorite things about living in New York is that we have four seasons. There is a cycle to the year, and we all have our normal routines that go along with different times of the year.

In New York, we tend to use winter as the time of year to get most of our work done. We spend long hours at work trying to be as productive as possible, so when it gets nice in the summer, we are way ahead of our productivity for the year so we can enjoy the warmth of the sun.

With all this extra time spent at work (most likely sitting at a desk), our bodies scream for some exercise, but “IT’S SOOOO COLD” (I hear my 11 year old daughter’s whine as I write that)…so cold that none of us want to go outside to exercise (and there is only so much motivation we can have staring a the same 4 walls in the gym).

So try these tips to get out and enjoy the beauty of New York to stay fit, motivated and warm in the cold winter months.

  • Check the Weather Conditions, especially the Wind Chill

Temperature, wind, and moisture are key factors in the planning of your outdoor winter workouts, and should be the deciding factor in the determining the length and intensity of your workout.

Wind and cold mixed together cause wind chills to drop, and make for dangerous exercise conditions. Wind can penetrate clothes and remove the insulated layer of warmth and increase the skin’s vulnerability to frostbite. At wind chills below -18°F, frostbite can occur on exposed skin in less than 30 minutes.

The risk of frostbite is less than 5% at 5°F, but increases dramatically as the temperature dips below 0°F (not to mention the effects of wind chills at these low temperatures). Consider indoor workouts at these temperatures.

Getting wet makes you more vulnerable to the cold. If you get wet at extreme temperature, you may not be able to keep your core temperature high enough, so either postpone your workout or move inside during the winter rains and snow storms.

  • Dress in Layers, but Don’t Overdress

Since your body warms up once you get moving, dressing too warmly can be a big mistake when exercising in the cold. When exercising, overdressing can lead to excess sweating which evaporates as a way to cool your body down, and makes you feel colder.

The solution is quite simple…dress in layers.

  1. The first level should be a wicking material that draws sweat away from the body. Stay away from a cotton first layer which absorbs sweat and makes you colder).

  2. Next add a fleece or wool layer for insulation.

  3. Finally, top it off with a waterproof and breathable outer layer.