Exercise Safely in Winter Weather

Don't let the cold weather turn you into a pale couch potato. Take to the trails, slopes, or ponds for healthful winter activity.


Prepare for the Cold

"Winter sports are good forms of exercise for many people with diabetes," says JoAnn Manty, R.N., M.S.N., CDE, supervisor of diabetes education at Marquette (Michigan) General Health System. A cross-country skier, Manty stresses the importance of getting your doctor's approval before taking up a winter sport and checking your blood glucose before, during, and after your workout.

Whether you're snowshoeing, skiing, or skating, make sure you're ready for whatever Old Man Winter throws your way. There aren't many places colder than the top of a mountain. It's no surprise, then, that extreme mountain climber Will Cross knows how to manage cold weather and his diabetes.

Smart Clothing: While wool is Cross' fabric of choice, "Synthetic fabrics also keep out the wind and cold. Be sure to protect your hands and face," he says, Layers will keep you warm and are easy to shed as you or the weather heats up. Wear hats, face masks, and gloves or mittens. And don't forget the sunscreen. "Sunscreen is an absolute necessity. It not only protects your skin, it can help to keep you hydrated. Dehydration is as much of a danger in cold weather as it is in hot weather," Cross says.

Keep Insulin Warm: Since insulin can deteriorate in extreme temperatures and will freeze, Cross keeps his insulin inside his clothing and next to his skin. He recommends keeping insulin pens, pumps, and monitoring devices under clothing to keep them as warm as possible.