How Cold is Too Cold to Workout Outside?

It’s finally starting to feel like winter, and for many of us that means it’s time to break out the winter gear and hit the roads (or trails, or sidewalks…). But how cold is too cold to work out outside?

The Benefits of Working Out Outdoors

Working out outdoors can be a great way to switch up your exercise routine. Doing activities outdoors can help to keep you motivated and increase your level of physical activity. Being surrounded by natural elements like trees, plants, and bodies of water can help to reduce stress and improve overall wellbeing. But how cold is too cold for outdoor workouts? Let’s explore the benefits of working out outdoors and determine the optimal temperature for exercising outside.

Improved mood

Studies indicate that working out outdoors has many mental health benefits when compared to exercising indoors. When you workout outdoors, your body releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural mood boosters. Additionally, fresh air and natural light can help banish bad moods due to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or other factors such as stress and lack of sleep. Plus, being outside can help you de-stress from your overcrowded calendar by allowing you to disconnect from the noise of everyday life and focus on yourself for a little while. By exercising outdoors, you can achieve both an improved physical condition as well as a better mental outlook!

Increased energy

Working out outdoors can provide multiple benefits that are not found in a traditional gym setting. While exercising outdoors, we can reap the rewards of both physical and mental health enhancements. One of the main benefits of working out outdoors is the increased energy associated with being exposed to natural elements such as sunshine, clean air and natural sounds. By leaving the confines of our home and breaking away from screens, we open ourselves up to these positive elements for our overall health.

Exercising in colder temperatures does require some adjustment but can still have positive effects on energy levels. Studies have shown that cold-weather workouts increase feelings of alertness and vitality due to elevated endorphin release and improved blood flow. When working out in colder climates, it is important to dress appropriately- wear layers to trap heat while preventing sweat from cooling off your body too much during exercise. With adequate warm clothing and some practice, you may soon find yourself energized even when working out in lower temperatures!

Improved concentration

Exercising outdoors is thought to have numerous mental and physical benefits, including improved concentration. Evidence suggests that outdoor workouts help the body experience higher levels of concentration throughout the day due to their positive influence on your focus and energy. Research shows that fresh air and nature tend to encourage wider attention spans, which can be very beneficial for studying or other activities. Additionally, this type of activity is thought to boost self-esteem and reduce anxiety levels. Taking a break from the gym every now and then to enjoy the great outdoors can provide many advantages in terms of both physical and mental wellbeing.

Dangers of Working Out in the Cold

Working out in extreme temperatures can be dangerous and even deadly. Exercising in temperatures that are too cold can lead to hypothermia, frostbite, or other injuries. Therefore, you should always be aware of the conditions outside before deciding to workout outdoors. In this article, we will cover the specific dangers and risks associated with working out in the cold and how to safely do so if you still choose to.


When working out in cold weather, it is important to be aware of hypothermia. Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature falls below an average of 35°C (95°F). This can happen very quickly and can be dangerous if untreated. Common symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, drowsiness, confusion, slow and shallow breathing, and a loss of coordination. If you start to feel any of these symptoms while working out in the cold, you should get inside somewhere warm immediately.

It is also important to dress appropriately for the weather. Wear layers that trap heat and keep wind chill away from your body. Wearing waterproof material can also help keep you dry so as to not add chill factors from sweat or wet clothing. Remember that even in high temperatures a strong wind can lower your body temperature rapidly. Pay attention to local forecasts, wind speeds and be sure to wear a windproof layer when conditions are windy or blowing snow is present.


Frostbite is one of the most dangerous exposures to cold temperatures when working out outside. Frostbite occurs when exposed skin and tissue become so cold that the blood vessels in these areas constrict, making it difficult for fresh oxygenated blood to reach them. When frostbite does occur, it can cause moderate to severe tissue damage and even lead to amputation if the affected area is not treated quickly. Signs of frostbite include extreme redness or paleness, aching or burning sensations, numbness and possible blisters. If you experience any of these signs while working out in the cold, seek immediate medical attention as tissues may require special treatment to prevent long-term damage. It is important to protect exposed skin when working out in cold weather. Wear multiple layers of clothing made with wind-resistant materials such as wool or polyester and look for items that are water-resistant or waterproof. Keeping your body dry will help trap heat close to your skin and reduce your chance of developing frostbite. Additionally, wearing a coat, hat and gloves can help protect other areas prone to frostbite such as the face, hands, feet and ears so that you can keep warm while still enjoying outdoor workouts.

Increased risk of injury

When working out in the cold, individuals are at an increased risk of injury due to the lower temperatures. Muscles, tendons, and joint ligaments become stiffer when cold and may not respond quickly or adequately enough when asked to flex or stretch suddenly. This can cause stretching too far beyond normal limits, resulting in injury due to muscle strain or tears.

In addition to increased risk of muscle strain, there is an increased risk for developing hypothermia if working out for long periods of time outdoors in the cold. The human body must expend up to four times as much energy trying to stay warm by shivering when outside due to inefficient regulation from colder temperatures. While shivering does increase heat production it also begins consuming a significant amount of the bodies energy reserves, leading to exhaustion that can open the door for cold-related injuries such as frostbite and hypothermia.

Temperature Guidelines for Outdoor Workouts

Working out outdoors has lots of benefits – fresh air, natural beauty, plenty of vitamin D and more. But it’s important to consider the temperature when deciding to exercise outdoors. There are certain temperature guidelines to follow so that you stay safe and enjoy your outdoor workout. Read on to learn more about the temperature guidelines for outdoor workouts.

Temperature range

Your safety and comfort will depend a great deal on the temperature range in which you’re exercising. Generally, moderate temperatures between 45 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit are best for working out outdoors. If it’s any colder than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, frostbite could become a problem and if it’s above 80°F, you risk exhaustion from the heat. Additionally, wind chill should be taken into account when planning your workout; even if the temperature is above 45°F, wind chill can make it feel much colder. It’s also important to note that high humidity can also pose a risk for heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke or hyperthermia.

In order to ensure safety before heading outside for a workout in cold temperatures, wear layers of loose clothing that is waterproof or at least water-resistant and appropriate to the temperature. Make sure to cover all extremities like fingers, toes, ears and head because they are more susceptible to frostbite than other areas of your body. Finally, don’t forget your sunglasses! The sun reflecting off low clouds during winter workouts can cause sunburn more quickly than expected due to lack of protective UV blocking qualities this time of year.

Wind chill factor

The wind chill factor is an important consideration when determining whether it’s safe to exercise outside in cold weather. The wind chill index accounts for the combined effects of temperature and wind on exposed skin. It uses certain natural elements to influence how quickly the body cools down and can cause frostbite within around 30 minutes.

The amount of heat lost from your body is greatest when there’s a strong wind, so you might think you could go out in cold temperatures if there isn’t much air movement. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case — even if there’s no visible wind, there’s still unseen air movement that can reduce your body temperature and cause potential harm.

For outdoor workouts in winter, it’s best to avoid any environment with a wind chill factor below -15°F (-26°C), as this could be dangerous for your health. This means that even if it feels comfortable to you while standing still in one place outside, its possible that conditions will worsen with increased physical activity due to heat loss from exertion. To ensure safety, always check the current temperatures before heading outdoors for a workout — and make sure that you wear appropriate clothing for extra warmth!


Humidity is an important factor to consider when it comes to outdoor workouts. High humidity increases the risk of exhaustion and other medical complications, so it’s important to check the local relative humidity before heading out for a long run or strenuous workout in cold weather. When the relative humidity percentage is at least 50% or higher, be especially cautious and listen to your body while exercising outdoors. Furthermore, during extremely high levels of humidity (above 70%), consider shifting all activities indoors.

Best Practices for Working Out in Cold Weather

Working out in cold weather can be a great way to get a good workout while enjoying the outdoors. But, it’s important to know the risks and best practices related to cold weather exercise. By understanding a few simple guidelines, you can stay safe and healthy while enjoying the benefits of exercising outdoors in cold weather. Let’s look in more detail at how cold is too cold to work out outside, and what best practices you should follow when exercising in cold weather.

Wear layers

When exercising in cold weather, the best strategy is to wear layers of lightweight clothing. Layering apparel helps to trap heat and keep your body warm. Start by wearing a thin base layer made of a synthetic or wool material (preferably both) next to your skin. This layer should fit snugly and be odor-resistant.

If needed, you can add a midlayer such as a fleece or heavy-duty sweater over your base layer for added comfort and warmth without bulk or weight. You can also finish your ensemble with a waterproof, windproof outer shell that will protect you from the elements and help maintain your body temperature. Make sure the layers fit loosely and are breathable so that moisture does not build up on the inside of clothing. Lastly, make sure to accessorize appropriately for cold weather, such as wearing gloves and a hat that provides coverage for both ears!

Protect your extremities

When exercising in cold temperatures, it’s important to protect your extremities from the cold. This is because the body primarily pulls blood away from extremities to keep the core warm. Make sure to wear gloves and a hat, as well as warm socks and shoes to keep your fingers, toes and ears warm during exercise. To avoid frostbite while exercising in cold weather, it’s important that you properly layer your clothing to help maintain regulation of your body temperature throughout the activity.

When layering your clothing for cold weather workouts, remember that layers should be breathable fabrics such as wool or synthetic materials like polyester or nylon that are designed specifically to keep you warm while wicking sweat away from the skin. Start with a thin baselayer such as a synthetic shirt close to the skin and add middle layers of thicker fabrics such as fleece or wool for insulation. Finally, add an outer shell layer with wind-blocking material technology (such as GoreTex) for both warmth and protection against precipitation if present. When working out in extreme cold weather conditions make sure you’re aware of any inclement conditions (such as snow, sleet or rain) before heading out – these can all make already frigid temperatures even lower! Lastly don’t forget sunscreen – even on cloudy days UV rays can penetrate through clouds!

Stay hydrated

Hydration plays an important role in health, especially when exercising in cold weather. Water is a key factor for your body to be able to regulate temperature and to allow for proper muscle contractions and cardiovascular support for exercise. Keeping fluid intake consistent during strenuous physical activity will help you attain optimal performance and avoid fatigue. Make sure that you’re drinking enough water throughout the day, not just during the workout itself, as this is even more important in cold temperatures in order to compensate for rapid evaporation of sweat. It’s recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) that active people consume at least 16 ounces of water two hours prior to starting their workout, with another 8 ounces right before they begin exercising.

Alternatives to Outdoor Workouts

If the temperatures outside are too cold to go out and do a workout, there are a multitude of options for working out indoors. From home workouts to going to a gym, there are a variety of alternatives that can help you stay active even when the temperature is too cold to work out outside. Let’s explore some of the alternatives that you can use to stay fit and healthy if the weather is too cold to do outdoor workouts.

Indoor workout facilities

Indoor workout facilities are a great choice during cold weather, offering warm and dry conditions. Many provide classes such as yoga, spinning and kickboxing or equipment such as exercise bikes and weight machines. Gym memberships usually offer low monthly rates but do require a commitment. Popular choices include 24-Hour Fitness, Anytime Fitness, Snap Fitness and Planet Fitness. Students should take advantage of reduced prices through their universities’ recreation centers if available.

Another option is to purchase home gym equipment. This allows you to customize your own routine geared toward your needs from the comfort of your own home. Options range from small items such as exercise mats and jump ropes to large machines with elliptical trainers, treadmills and weights, just be sure to follow the assembly instructions carefully! Investing in quality pieces helps ensure that it is functioning correctly for maximum safety and efficiency for all of your athletic endeavors.

At-home workouts

At-home workouts are a great option if you are trying to stay active and save some money at the same time. You don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to get a good workout in your own home. Simple body weight exercises like squats, lunges, bridges, mountain climbers and burpees all work multiple muscles and can help strengthen your entire body. Additionally, adding household items like boxes, chairs and walls for balance can inject some variety into the routine.

If you get bored easily or find it difficult to come up with new workouts on your own every day, there are plenty of fitness apps available to give you ideas and keep track of your progress as well as Youtube videos that can provide basic step-by-step instruction for any kind of bodyweight exercise you can think of. If you do have access to gym equipment at home, there are plenty of online resources giving instructions on how to use these items effectively for a total body workout.

Lastly, there is the option of hiring an online personal trainer who will design tailored programs just for you and give live feedback during workouts using video streaming or messaging services such as Skype or Zoom. This way you’re not just following along with pre-recorded videos but getting real time guidance from an expert who will assess proper form and push you out of your comfort zone—all from the convenience of home!

Virtual classes

Virtual classes are a great solution for anyone looking to stay active outdoors in cold weather conditions. These classes provide an interactive, virtual experience that’s perfect for staying connected with your fitness community while keeping warm indoors.

Most virtual classes offer a wide range of options that cater to any fitness level or goal. Options include yoga and meditation, high intensity interval training (HIIT), strength and conditioning classes, kickboxing, and more. Many programs even offer group-oriented nutrition plans that enable you to track your progress throughout the week or month.

Keep in mind that some virtual class programs require an access code for entry; register ahead of time to make sure you’re prepared when the session begins. Additionally, certain platforms may have course fees associated with them, so it’s important to research your options before signing up for anything. Ready to get started? Search online for virtual classes near you today!

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