Take safety precautions when exercising in cold weather

Sometimes runners complain about breathing in cold air.
Sometimes runners complain about breathing in cold air.

DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - As the temperatures drop and the days become shorter, exercising outside can be more of a challenge.

"The three most important dangers that you're really concerned about are frostbite, hypothermia and increased heart attacks," said Conley Duncan.

Duncan is a former star football player at Hartselle High School and the University of Alabama.  Now he's a professional, certified athletic trainer.

He knows sometimes runners complain about breathing in cold air.

"It's really unclear as to whether or not the ventilation or breathing of very cold air within your lungs, how much actual damage that really does," said Duncan.

If you wait until after work, it could also be dark.  And you know it will be even colder.

"Fortunately, here, we don't have a great deal of cold weather for a  longer period of time, and on those really cold days - those 20 degrees and below - that may be a good time to go find a fitness center to get a good indoor workout," he said.

On this day, he's putting two of his clients through a program designed for them inside.

If you must exercise outside, he said layered clothing is very important.

"You need to have a nice little synthetic type shirt next to your skin.  And that allows you to wick the moisture away.  Usually, the second layer is going to be more of a wool or cotton based sweater or shirt," he said, "and then you want a light weight outside that keeps the air out."

And when you sweat, don't forget to replenish those fluids so you don't become dehydrated.  Also, don't forget to stretch before and after exercising so you don't damage your muscles.

Let's face it.  Sometimes it's just too cold to work outside, so it's up to you to find either a local gym or a senior center where you can come in and get that workout.

Duncan said if the temperatures are in the 30's and 40's and you are taking precautions - that's fine.  But into the 20's - you might want to go inside.

Copyright 2012 WAFF. All rights reserved.