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Winter Safety – Extreme Cold Weather and Your Heart

Social Media Graphic on Winter Safety with Service Member skiing in the snow.  Winter Safety: Exercise Safely in Extreme Cold

Staying mission ready means avoiding preventable injury and illness. Winter weather poses a risk to health, including to your heart, which can be minimized with proper winter safety actions.

Messages for Communicators

  • Strenuous activity during cold weather can increase your risk of heart attack compared to temperate weather.
    • Cold weather can cause blood vessels and arteries to constrict, making the heart work harder to pump blood.
    • This can cause angina, or chest pain, that can also spread to the shoulders, arms, or neck.
    • Strenuous activity out in the cold should be approached with caution, especially if you are not used to physical activity – this even includes things like shoveling snow, yard work, or exercise.
  • Make good choices about the rigor of your cold weather exercises and the clothing you wear, and take extra care with regular tasks made more dangerous by ice and snow.
  • Listen to your body: chest pain, lightheadedness, shortness of breath and dizziness mean that all activity should stop immediately and medical attention is necessary.
  • Exercising in cold weather also poses other different risks than warm or temperate weather. 
    • Cold muscles can lead to injuries. Make sure you stretch before exercising in the cold weather.
    • Your endurance can change in cold weather. Make sure you know your winter limits before you push them.
    • Hypothermia or frostbite are real concerns in extreme cold. Wear appropriate gear, or carry gloves, hats, extra socks, or an additional layer.
      • Limit time outside in windy, wet, or extremely cold weather.
      • Your core may be warm, but your fingers and toes can be at risk from frostbite.
      • If exertion is keeping your body temperature up, it can drop rapidly once you stop exercising.

Related Links

Winter Storms, Extreme Cold


Graphics

Social Media Graphic on Winter Safety with Service Member shoveling snow.  Winter Safety: Whether shoveling the walk, or building a shelter during winter training exercises, proper gear prevents injury in extreme weather, and lessens the risk of angina, or chest pain, during strenuous cold weather activity


Social Media infographic on Winter Heart Safety with thermometer.  Winter Heart Safety: Did you know? Cold weather can cause blood vessels to constrict, making the heart work harder to pump. Strenuous activity out in the cold should be approached with caution, especially if you are not used to physical activity. Avoid cold weather triggers. Listen to your body

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