Skiing off-piste

It’s wonderful to have a winter break and with all that extra spare time you may want to exercise more, particularly after all the Christmas pudding and chocolates! It’s a great idea but do watch out for adverse weather conditions. Exercising in very cold conditions has some serious risks.

Watch out for slippery conditions – wet, ice and snow are the perfect recipe for a trip to A&E from a fall (defined as ‘an unplanned descent to the floor’ we are told!). Choose good grippy footwear and take extra care especially if there is any frost. We love seeing you but extra visits for sprained ankles or broken bones are best avoided if possible!

  • Children are particularly at risk as they have a greater surface area to body mass ratio and will lose heat more quickly, especially if they get wet rolling around in the snow!

Other medical conditions:

  • Heart disease can be worse in the cold as it increases your blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Raynaud’s disease affects the circulation to fingers and toes causing pain and loss of circulation – make sure you wear warm waterproof gloves and socks.
  • Cold air and asthma – cold dry air makes asthma symptoms worse so take care and use your preventer inhalers before exercising out of doors and take your ‘reliever’ inhaler with you when you go.

Watch for weather reports so you don’t get caught out and wear bright reflective clothing when lighting conditions are poor. You also still need to keep hydrated even if it is cold – but avoid alcohol beforehand as this will cause your blood vessels to vasodilate and lose more heat.

Hypothermia can occur with low temperatures and exercise, particularly if you get wet. Exercising muscles produce a lot of heat but if you lose too much the body will start to shut down. So wear appropriate clothing:

  • Several layers of clothing are best with ones that wick moisture away from your skin at the bottom, something warm next and something waterproof and windproof on top.
  • Wear a hat to reduce heat loss from the head and a scarf to protect your face if really cold and windy.
  • Children are particularly at risk as they have a greater surface area to body mass ratio and will lose heat more quickly, especially if they get wet rolling around in the snow!