Staying healthy in the cold

January 22, 2013 3:39:00 PM PST
We're having the coldest weather of the past few years. Just like with summer heat, with bitter cold, there are some things to remember to protect your health.

Cold weather can be dangerous if you are not prepared.

Everyone is at risk for problems but just like with the heat, it is the very old and the very young who are most at risk.

First, you want to dress in layers. That will trap more heat around your body.

It'll help prevent hypothermia - that's when your body's temperature drops too low to keep your blood pressure up and your internal organs working.

Also, be careful not to overexert yourself outdoors, especially if you're not in good shape or if you have heart problems.

Cold weather can put a strain on the heart.

Dr. Curtis Rimmerman, a cardiologist, says, "We know that cold can constrict the arteries so it's the actual stress of the temperature, the constriction of the arteries, the acute rise in blood pressure in patients who may not regularly exercise, who are not in tip top shape. These are the patients who are at greatest risk."

In addition, everyone should be sure to keep their extremities covered.

Your hands, feet, and face are the most vulnerable to frostbite.

They don't have a lot of protective fat, so the cold can cause damage quickly.

In extreme cold, listen to your body. If you feel too cold or tired, come inside to warm up.

And if you are a runner, and plan to work out outdoors, layer your clothes like this:

*A wicking material close to your body

* A fleece or wool layer over that

* Finally, a windbreaker layer to protect you from wind or snow.

And of course, you want to have on a hat, gloves. And try to find sneakers without a lot of mesh so your feet stay dry.

Experts suggest outdoor athletes dress like it is about 15 degrees warmer than the temperature actually reads, to keep you from getting too warm.

And when you are done, take off any wet clothing and get back inside.