Too Cold To Exercise?

FasterSkierFebruary 14, 20082

The full New York Times article can be read here.

The piece focuses on the question of whether it is ever too cold to exercise. John W. Castellani, an exercise physiologist at the Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine and lead author of a 2006 position paper from the American College of Sports Medicine on exercising in the cold, provides much of the information in the article. In a nutshell, Dr. Castellani says that the answer is “no” it is never too cold to exercise – while it can most certainly be too hot to exercise.

Of particular interest to competitive skiers is the issue of asthma. Asthma is commonly thought to be exacerbated by extreme cold, and that lungs can be damaged, even frostbit, by the cold.

But, no matter how cold the air is, by the time it reaches your lungs, it is body temperature. And athletically induced asthma is not triggered by the cold – it is the dryness of the air that causes the problems.

Reader Tim Kelley brought up the interesting point that perhaps humidity should be taken into account when determining whether or not it is safe to hold a race. Of course the risk of frostbite is a function of temperature.

One more interesting note is that there is currently no evidence to show that a person can acclimatize to the cold as they can to heat.

Please read the full article before commenting. The above is merely short synopsis of the original piece.

The full New York Times article can be read here.

Source: New York Times


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  • skiheidi

    January 13, 2009 at 8:47 am

    It is safe to exercise EASY in just about any temperature. Exercising hard is another story entirely. There are some good scientific studies demonstrating this. This has nothing to do with asthma, it has to do with actual freezing of lung and other respiratory tissue, which is another thing entirely. This article does not deal with that difference or that issue, at all. This article is about EASY EXERCISE only.

    To see a more extensive explanation by me, see my comments on US Nationals Aftermath (posted just after US nationals 2009)

  • skiheidi

    January 13, 2009 at 8:52 am

    I will also say that the risk of frostbite to lung and other respiratory tissue is greater as the humidity is greater, because of the very high heat capacity and thermal conductivity of water particles. Humidity may decrease asthma risk but it will increase the risk of long term respiratory tissue damage.

    The popular press is really not a reliable, accurate source of health information. I do not understand why the New York Times is being seen as a reliable source of this type of information. The New York Times is a VERY reliable source of the type of information they are good at- news about what is going on in the world politically and so forth. They are not a science journal.

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