It wasn’t that long ago that I came across a few articles that suggested endurance training in cold weather was beneficial. However, after doing some research I learned that performing strenuous exercise when your body temperature is lower than normal can be unnecessarily risky. It is extremely important to wear appropriate attire in freezing conditions and listen to your body. The following is what several studies have discovered about performing exercise in extremely cold conditions.
Lactic Acid Build Up
It is harder to exercise in the cold without getting tired than regular weather. This is partial because of lactic acid build-up and partially because muscles constrict in the cold. Lactic acid builds up when you are exercising in cold weather because it is harder for your body to absorb oxygen when it’s cold. Muscles go through anaerobic respiration — to make energy — and lactate is given off as a byproduct.
Lack of Coordination
As I mentioned before muscles constrict in the cold. Although your muscles don’t become weaker in cold this muscle constriction makes them harder to control and thus decreases coordination. It is harder to train when you are uncoordinated. Decreased coordination could potentially be dangerous especially when considering cold environments also tend to be covered in ice.
Exercise Induced Asthma
Like all asthma, exercised induced asthma is when your airway to becomes inflamed and begins to close. However unlike other asthma, exercised induced asthma gets worse during the winter. This is because exercise induced asthma is caused by the dehydration of the saliva and mucus that coat your airway. During the winter saliva and mucus tend to dehydrate faster because the air is dryer in the winter. You are more likely to get chapped lips in the winter for this same reason.
Most of the risks associated with exercising in the cold are a result of lowered muscle temperatures. If you dress appropriately for cold weather, make sure you stay hydrated and pay attention to how your body feels and functions, exercising in cold weather is no more harmful (or beneficial) than exercising in moderate temperatures. I suggest buying a warm coat and some winter boots, enjoying the crisp air and playing in the snow.