Everyone knows that exercise is an important part of staying fit, a healthy life and looking good.
As a society, we have the tendency to take things too far, though; 24-hour fitness centers are popping up like Starbucks, a new breakthrough diet, guaranteed to add years and remove inches, seems to be coming out every time you care to look. The rules of what to eat also seem to change nonstop, carbs, no carbs, eat this but not that. It’s enough to make a person take leave of his or her sanity and do something crazy, like take to the streets running in the middle of winter.
If you are debating on whether or not you should take up winter running and are looking for sane reasons not to, you have come to the right place. There seems to be a never-ending cascade of websites and information sources espousing the unending virtues of running in the winter, so it’s about time someone told the truth about this masochistic display of fitness gone too far.
When you are sitting on your sofa sipping a piping hot cup of cocoa, you will thank me for giving you the truth about why you should not be outdoors punishing yourself.
Without the proper clothing and precautions, hypothermia is a realistic hazard that comes about because of someone’s inexorable need to push through bitter cold conditions.
A significant drop in core body temperature causes hypothermia. Some of the symptoms include feeling cold, numbness, uncontrollable shivering, sore muscles, lack of coordination, confusion, exhaustion and unconsciousness. So if you are running in the cold, you are already suffering from confusion, and most of the other symptoms are sensations you would feel from running in normal temperatures. You could be putting yourself in real danger and not be aware of it.
Frostbite and Chilblains
If the potential for hypothermia is not enough to deter you from winter running, other issues to contend with are frostbite and chilblains. Most people are familiar with frostbite; chilblains is similar and usually takes over an hour of exposure to set in. Frostbite and chilblains are identified by skin redness or discoloration, swelling, pain, excessive itching, tingling, or a burning sensation. Both of these conditions can be very severe with cases leading to the loss of fingers, toes or a nose.
Exercise-induced asthma has been diagnosed in many Olympic-level ice skaters, hockey players and skiers. It is a safe bet that these dedicated athletes take every safety measure imaginable, yet they still get asthma from training in cold and winter conditions. Even though many experts think it stems from the “dryness” and not the frigidity of the air; exercise-induced asthma is still a valid concern that seems to arise from exertion in winter conditions.
Slipping on Ice
Last and least is the higher probability of slipping and falling on a patch of ice, which really does not need much of an explanation.
Now go show your wife or girlfriend this article, ask if you think the risk of losing an extremity or developing winter-induced asthma is worth you trudging around in the snow. Then go enjoy that cup of cocoa, and wait until it warms up a bit before you dig your jogging shoes out of the bottom of your closet.
“Frostbite.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition (2011): 1.