Don’t let the cold winter months trap you and your family indoors. Winter is a great time to get out on the trail. Here are 5 reminders to help you plan ahead and prepare for safe and fun winter outdoor activities. 

Clothing

This will be temperature-dependent, but one consistent piece of advice to keep warm and dry is to dress in layers.Multiple layers help trap air against your body for better heat retention. Also, layering allows you to put on more when you are cold or take some off to cool down. Start with three layers: a base layer – made out of a fabric designed to draw sweat away from the body; an insulating middle layer, such as fleece or wool; and a waterproof but breathable outer shell to protect against wind or moisture.

Equipment

Have your x-country skis or snowshoes been in the basement since last winter? Has your bike been idle for a few months? Make sure your equipment is in good working order before you head out. It’s always frustrating to have equipment issues, even more so when it leaves you stuck out in the cold. 

Food 

Stay Fueled. Exercising in the cold burns more calories when compared to similar exertion in the summer. Not to mention, if you don’t have enough food for the trail, you may get cold faster. Do not underestimate the number of calories you will need, even on a short walk or bike ride. Bring plenty of high-energy snacks. 

Hydrate

Keep hydrated. Getting enough fluids is important to stay healthy and active. You might be inclined to think that staying hydrated is something you only need to think about in the warmer months. However, winter tends to be drier, and we typically lose moisture just as quickly – or more quickly – as our bodies heat up during exercise. Also, dehydration can leave a person more susceptible to the cold, including frostbite.

Safety

Go out with a friend. It’s always a good idea to go outdoors with someone else, for companionship and safety. But the consequences of a slip and fall that leave you stuck on the trail in winter, are higher.  At the very least, carry a cell phone and let someone know where you are and when you will be back.  Go out in daylight. Hours are short in the winter and the sun goes down quickly. Begin your trip early in the day and be prepared.

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