Even when it’s icy and snowy outside, it’s important to stay active during the long winter months. Many people prefer to work out indoors with an exercise video or DVD. Others like to head to the gym or fitness center to strength train, hop on the elliptical, or take a yoga class. But some people actually enjoy getting outdoors for a cold weather workout. Sledding, anyone?

An outdoor workout can help you enjoy the winter season. Plus, it can get your blood pumping, burn some calories, and boost your mood. But it’s important to follow a few safety tips when you’re active outdoors in the winter.

Here are 5 tips to help keep your winter workouts safe:

  1. Dress in layers. Protect your body by wearing several layers of loose-fitting clothes. As you warm up, you can start removing layers. You can put them on again when your workout slows down. Choose moisture-wicking fabrics to draw sweat away from your skin and help keep you dry and warm.
  2. Cover your extremities. Heat tends to escape quickly from your head. So always wear a hat when you step out into chilly air. This will help your whole body stay warmer. A hat will also help protect your ears. To protect your face, try using a face mask or a scarf. Place it over your mouth to help warm up the air you breathe into your lungs. And choose mittens over gloves to keep your hands nice and toasty.
  3. Focus on your footwear. Ice and snow can be slippery. Be sure you choose footwear with good traction. This will help prevent you from falling. Use boots or shoes that are waterproof and insulated. And remember to bring an extra pair of socks along in case the ones you are wearing get wet. Wool or synthetic fabrics are better than cotton when you’re working out in the cold.
  4. Drink lots of fluid. It’s easy to forget to drink enough water in cold weather. You may not feel thirsty. But keep in mind that you can still get dehydrated at this time of year. Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your workout. If you feel like drinking something hot, make sure it does not have any caffeine or alcohol in it. These types of drinks may make your body lose heat more quickly.
  5. Shield yourself from the sun. Wintry weather probably doesn’t make you think of slapping on sunscreen. But the glare of the sun’s rays off snow can give you a painful sunburn. Make sure to put sunscreen on any exposed skin. Use a lip balm with SPF on your lips to keep them safe from the sun as well. And be sure to wear your sunglasses to shield your eyes from the sun.

Don’t let a little snow get you off track this year. Go ice skating with friends. Build a snowman with your kids. Or hit the slopes for skiing or snowboarding. Just remember to bundle up and stay safe!