Nutrition Corner: Know how to dress for colder outdoor walks

Nutrition Corner Mary R. Ehret -

Now that the cold weather has hit the northeast, many of us look to stay indoors. If you are able to keep your activity level up indoors, that’s great. However, if you are an outdoor walker as I am, it’s time to think about how to stay warm while walking outdoors.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or a combination each week. Therefore, that would be two one-hour walks and a short 30-minute walk each week. Some may ask, where can I find the time?

If you work outside the home during the day, weekends may help with the two one-hour walks, especially with the early dark evenings. To catch up take two 15-minute walks during the weekday while at work. Anyway, you plan it, it’s important to be mindful of how you dress for outdoor walks.

The guidelines also recommend that children be active for at least 60 minutes every day. Because of school, they may need to join you on the one-hour weekend walks. Here are some recommendations from the Center for Disease Control on how to dress to stay warm.

Adults and children should wear a hat and scarf or a knit mask to cover face and mouth. Coat sleeves need to be snug at the wrist. Choose mittens, as they are warmer than gloves. Next, water-resistant coat and boots. Finally, several layers of loose-fitting clothing. Here’s how to layer your clothing:

First, the inner layer: Wear fabrics that will hold more body heat and do not absorb moisture. Wool, silk, or polypropylene will hold more body heat than cotton. Check your garment label.

Second, the insulation layer: An insulation layer will help you retain heat by trapping air close to your body. Natural fibers, like wool or goose down, or a classic fleece work best.

Lastly, the outer layer: The outermost layer helps protect you from wind, rain, and snow. It should be tightly woven, and preferably water and wind resistant, to reduce loss of body heat.

Be smart if you are a walker. Layer your clothing for both yourself and your children. You will enjoy your walk more and be safe in cold weather.

A bit of caution. Staying out in the cold too long can cause serious health problems. Hypothermia and frostbite are the most common cold-related health problems. Warning signs of hypothermia in adults are shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, and slurred speech drowsiness. In infants, signs of hypothermia include bright red, cold skin. Those who remain outdoors for long periods may be at risk.

Any of the following signs may indicate frostbite: a white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, and numbness.

To feel great, be active this time of year, either indoors or outdoors.

Here’s a holiday recipe from our Thanksgiving holiday booklet. Call 888-825-1701 for your copy of the booklet.

Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins

2 cups flour (may substitute white whole wheat)

3/4 cup sugar

3 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon allspice

1/3 cup canola oil

2 large eggs or 4 egg whites

3/4 cup canned pumpkin

2 cups fresh or frozen chopped cranberries

Preheat oven to 400˚ F. In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients (flour through allspice) and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat oil, eggs, and pumpkin together until well blended. Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients all at once. Stir until moistened. Fold in chopped cranberries. Spoon into paper lined muffin cups. Bake for 15 to 30 minutes. Makes 12 muffins. Enjoy!

Nutrition Corner Mary R. Ehret Corner Mary R. Ehret

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at