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Running in cold and windy weather can be dangerous.
It certainly takes a brave soul to tackle bone-chilling cold and windy weather in the climactic periods of the winter months. What is more, the wind that is often associated with the cold can make you feel even colder. As a result, it can be difficult to muster courage to run in such conditions. However, knowing how wind chill works, using effective running techniques and wearing proper clothing enables you to be properly equipped for cold and windy weather.
Wind Chill and Hypothermia
Wind chill is the measure of how quickly your body loses heat as a result of skin being exposed to cold and windy weather. The wind chill is due to the evaporation of water from your skin. The loss of heat during evaporation decreases surrounding temperatures. This is also due to the increased release of heat from your skin. Since wind removes heat faster from your skin, you will feel colder in windy conditions. As heat continues to escape, body temperature decreases -- which can lead to undesirable health effects. According to Medline Plus, a subsidiary website of the National Institutes of Health, a body temperature lower than 95 degrees leads to hypothermia. Thus, prolonged skin exposure to cold wind while running increases your risk of hypothermia.
While running in the cold does increase your risk of certain dangers, there are techniques you can use to prevent or subdue the dangers. To alleviate the effects of wind chill, head into the wind if you are running in a circuit. That way, your back will be facing the wind when you are returning to your original location. When running against the wind, avoid going too fast if you don't have to. Running directly against the wind at higher speeds significantly worsens the wind chill factor. Instead, run at higher speeds when the wind is blowing against your back. This gives you more propulsion as you run, and it also lessens the effects of wind chill.
While hypothermia is the main concern when running in cold, windy weather, there are other complications that you need to be aware of. In a 2010 article published by ABC News, Dr. Marie Savard highlighted the complications that individuals with asthma and heart disease may experience. Because cold weather restricts the airways in your lungs, it increases asthmatic patients' risk of an asthma attack. If you have heart disease, the suppression of the airways may increase your risk of suffering a heart attack. If you are diagnosed with these or other conditions, consult your doctor before running in cold, windy weather.
Proper layered clothing safeguards your body from the debilitating effects of the cold. The inner layer should consist of clothes that dry easily when wet. Water evaporates quicker in clothes made out of polyester and acrylic fabric. Wearing such clothes as the inner layer allows sweat to evaporate quickly. The middle layer should consist of thick clothes made out of fabric such as wool and cotton, which are effective for retaining body heat. The outer layer should consist of breathable waterproof clothing to prevent water infiltration and heat loss. Use thick socks and gloves to protect your hands and feet.