Prevent Winter Perils

Avoid Injuries This Time of Year

Shoveling snow? Slipping on the ice? That downhill run on the expert hill? Winter activities bring all kinds of opportunities for muscle injuries, strains, and sprains.

In colder temperatures, muscles and joints tighten up. That’s why it’s important to warm up for longer than usual before beginning any strenuous activities. Do a full 10-minute warmup when the temperature is 35-45°F; extend it an additional 5 minutes for every 10-degree drop in temperature.

And stay hydrated—even if you’re not thirsty—to avoid muscle fatigue and prevent soreness. Drink 16 ounces of fluids before you begin, then drink 4–6 ounces every 15–20 minutes to stay hydrated.

There is a 31% increase in heart attacks during the coldest months of the year compared to the warmest. [Source: Consumer Reports]

The risk for heart attack and stroke also increases with cold temperatures because blood vessels contract, which may raise blood pressure. If you’ve already had a heart attack, have angina or other heart disease, or are older than 65, be cautious when you participate in strenuous outdoor activities.


Dress for the weather. Wear loose, warm layers that trap insulating air, windproof and waterproof outer garments, and warm hats, gloves, and heavy socks.

Know your limits. Stop if you feel pain. Talk to your doctor about any activities you should avoid.

Use common sense. Walk carefully on ice to avoid falls. Keep an emergency kit in the car. Have a charged cell phone with you and let someone know your plans.

Don’t drink alcohol if you plan to be outdoors in cold weather. Alcoholic beverages cause the body to lose heat faster.

Prevent frostbite. Limit time outdoors in cold, wet, or windy weather. Change out of wet clothing as soon as possible. Seek warm shelter if you notice changes in skin color, prickling sensation and numbness.

Watch for hypothermia (when the body’s temperature drops to dangerously low levels). Signs include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, and slurred speech.

Get medical attention when necessary:

  • Choose a virtual visit to get advice for minor aches and pains. Go to or call 1 (888) 725-3097. Or go to, click Find a Doctor, then search by specialty for telehealth providers.
  • Go to an in-network urgent care center for severe sprains, frostbite, cuts that need stitches, or broken bones. Go to, click Find a Doctor, then search by type for urgent care facilities.
  • Call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room in life-threatening situations such as difficulty breathing, heart attack, hypothermia, severe frostbite, or physical injury. Go to, click Find a Doctor, then search by type for emergency care.
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