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Healtheuniversity > English > Cardiac College > Get Active > Exercise & Cold Weather > Tips for Safe Cold Weather Exercise

Tips for Safe Cold Weather Exercise

General Tips

  • Use your heart rate and rating of perceived exertion (RPE scale) to help you adjust your intensity or pace. View or download the rating of perceived exertion (RPE scale) (PDF, opens in new window) »
  • Slow your pace of walking to avoid over-exerting yourself.
  • Plan your outdoor route to be a short “out and back” route. Wind and sun conditions can change quickly.
  • Always do your warm-up and cool-down. Make sure you are dressed warmly enough to stay warm for these parts of your exercise.
  • Drink water before and after your exercise to stay hydrated.

Avoid Outdoor Exercise in Certain Weather Conditions

Snow-covered and icy Surfaces

Avoid walking on icy and snow-covered surfaces.

  • It may be harder to walk through snow. This puts an increased strain on your heart.
  • Walking on ice increases your risk of slipping and falling.


The wind can make it harder for you to exercise. Headwinds (when you walk into the wind) increase the chance of you feeling chilled. It also increases your level of effort.

Rain and wet snow

Avoid exercising outdoors in rain or wet snow. Your clothing will not keep you warm and you will lose body heat.

Pay attention when the sunshine turns to overcast

Pay attention when sunshine turns to cloudy conditions. When this change happens, the temperature can drop by 7°C.

Avoid Shovelling Snow

The highest number of admissions to emergency rooms for heart-related problems and sudden cardiac death occurs with the first heavy snowfalls of the year. This is because snow shovelling increases the risk of having a heart attack, especially for people with:

  • low levels of fitness
  • existing heart disease
  • a history of stroke

Shovelling snow takes the same amount of effort continuously jogging or running. This large amount of effort, in combination with the added strain on the heart caused by cold weather, will put you in a high-risk scenario if you decide to shovel snow. 

  • Get professional snow removal services or ask someone in your household who is not living with heart disease to remove the snow.
  • Some cities and townships provide free snow-removal services for residents living with heart disease or a chronic condition. Contact your local city office to ask about snow removal services before winter begins.
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