Research your trail to avoid getting lost. Tell someone where you’re going, even if you have company with you. Bring a topographical map and compass; phone tracking systems may not work in all areas. Don’t forget to pack plenty of water, snacks, a pocketknife and first-aid supplies. Also consider waterproof matches, an emergency blanket and a headlamp. Wear those warm wicking layers and bring an extra layer in your daypack. Head home well before sunset.
Runners out for their fix on the streets have a slightly different set of issues, as they’re less likely to get lost. Usually they will warm up in a few minutes and can shed layers. But start out with enough. Protect yourself from frostbite by wearing a facemask in the bitter temps, and some kind of hat or cap when milder. Gloves are essential, well-insulated ones when the wind is whipping.
Don’t go farther than you’re used to. Fatigue increases your susceptibility to hypothermia and injury. If you run where you have to jump into snow banks when a car goes by, wear gaiters to keep snow out of your running shoes, so your feet stay dry. In cities with tall buildings the streets can feel like wind tunnels; run on the sunny side of the street when you can.
Digging your car out of a snow bank or shoveling your walk definitely doesn’t qualify as a sport, but it’s definitely winter exercise! Precautions abound here, too. The American Chiropractic Association recommends warm-up stretches for those muscles that aren’t used to that particular action, and to push snow rather than throwing it. Avoid twisting your body and bend your knees when lifting the snow so your legs rather than your back take the brunt. Allow plenty of time, and rest often. Stop before you get exhausted. Finally, but most important, stop and call 911 if you become very short of breath or have chest pain.
Make winter about fun and frolic rather than painful waits in emergency rooms. Be safe!