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Prevention of Cold Injuries during Exercise

It is the position of the American College of Sports Medicine that exercise can be performed safely in most cold-weather environments without incurring cold-weather injuries. The key to prevention is use of a comprehensive risk management strategy that: a) identifies/assesses the cold hazard; b) identifies/assesses contributing factors for cold-weather injuries; c) develops controls to mitigate cold stress/strain; d) implements controls into formal plans; and e) utilizes administrative oversight to ensure controls are enforced or modified. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that: 1) coaches/athletes/medical personnel know the signs/symptoms and risk factors for hypothermia, frostbite, and nonfreezing cold injuries, identify individuals susceptible to cold injuries, and have the latest up-to-date information about current and future weather conditions before conducting training sessions or competitions; 2) cold-weather clothing be chosen based on each individual's requirements and that standardized clothing ensembles not be mandated for entire groups; 3) the wind-chill temperature index be used to estimate the relative risk of frostbite and that heightened surveillance of exercisers be used at wind-chill temperatures below -27°C (-18°F); and 4) individuals with asthma and cardiovascular disease can exercise in cold environments, but should be monitored closely.

View full ACSM Position Stand online.

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