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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 02-12-08, 06:46 AM   #1
dydst
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NY Times Article on Cold-Weather Exercising

I did a search, and didn't see this posted. It's an article from the NY Times basically saying that science has showed you can exercise without danger no matter how cold it is outside.

http://www.shapeupri.org/blog08/?p=12

Too Cold to Exercise? Try Another Excuse
By GINA KOLATA, The New York Times

JULIA HENSLEY, a 41-year-old artist, got a taste of bitter cold a decade ago when she spent a winter living on a glacier near Seward, Alaska. Typical winter temperatures were 10 to 15 degrees below.

“The first time it got really cold, I was scared of it,” Ms. Hensley said. “My instinct was to get a stack of books and curl up beside the wood stove.”

But a boyfriend persuaded her to go out anyway, to cross-country ski or snowshoe for hours in deep snow. He taught her, she said, that as long as she kept moving, she would be fine.

It was a conclusion — that extreme cold can be safe for exercisers — that runs contrary to conventional wisdom. But in fact, said John W. Castellani, an exercise physiologist at the Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, it turns out that even though cold can be frightening, more people are injured exercising in the heat than exercising in the cold.

Dr. Castellani was lead author of a 2006 position paper from the American College of Sports Medicine on exercising in the cold.

“The big question was, ‘Is it ever too cold?’” Dr. Castellani said. “The answer is no. People go to the poles, people are out there when it’s minus-50 degrees, people do incredible things, and safely. There really isn’t a point where you can tell people it is not safe anymore.”

Dr. Timothy Noakes, an exercise physiologist at the University of Cape Town in South Africa who was a reviewer of that position paper, even supervised a swimmer, Lewis Gordon Pugh, who swam 1 km or (.62 miles) in 19 minutes at the North Pole last July, in water that was between 29 and 32 degrees.

The problem with exercising in the cold, exercise physiologists say, is that people may be hobbled by myths that lead them to overdress or to stop moving, risky things to do.

Some worry that cold air will injure their lungs or elicit asthma symptoms. Or they are convinced that they are more susceptible to injury when it is cold and that they have to move more slowly — forget about sprinting or running at a fast clip.

But lungs are not damaged by cold, said Kenneth W. Rundell, the director of respiratory research and the human physiology laboratory at Marywood University in Scranton, Pa. No matter how cold the air is, by the time it reaches your lungs, it is body temperature, he explained.

Some people complain that they get exercise-induced asthma from the cold. But that sort of irritation of the respiratory tract is caused by dryness, not cold, Dr. Rundell said. “Cold air just happens not to hold much water and is quite dry,” he said. You’d have the same effect exercising in air that was equally dry but warm.

(more -- click on link)
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Old 02-12-08, 09:41 AM   #2
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I've head that 0 degree F air is 50 degrees by the time it exits your mouth, so no fear of frozen lungs for me. Cold carries with it some risks, however. If you're out in the woods on your mountain bike and fall and knock yourself unconscous you're at much greater risk in the cold. First off, there are fewer people out in the woods to find you and render aid, second there's an exposure risk that isn't as severe in good, warm weather. But as long as you're smart about it then cold exercise is perfectly safe.
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Old 02-12-08, 06:14 PM   #3
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The most serious problem I've faced up here is my own failure to drink enough water when it's below freezing. Esp. below ten or zero. The instinct is to avoid cold beverages, but while you don't seem to sweat you actually are--a LOT. Wicking clothes can cover up the reality of how much water you're losing. A failure to drink enough caused me to crash and burn pretty badly during a 50 mile ride I did late last year. The cold probably won't kill you but not drinking enough can. I experienced a kind of cold weather heat stroke. Both calf muscles started freaking out and I couldn't move for a while.
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Old 02-12-08, 07:19 PM   #4
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I get the cold weather asthma thing. Real bad sometimes. Then again I smoke and have smoked on and off for years. Probably more to do with tortured lungs and throat from cancer sticks. A neoprene mask solves problem.
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Old 02-13-08, 08:54 PM   #5
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Yeah, I've learned to drink more when riding in the snow. If there is snow cover on my commute home, I wear less, and drink a lot before I leave. Had one ride where I nearly passed out - hot and sweating badly from so much extra effort to push through the snow.
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Old 02-14-08, 03:22 PM   #6
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I get the cold weather asthma thing. Real bad sometimes. Then again I smoke and have smoked on and off for years. Probably more to do with tortured lungs and throat from cancer sticks. A neoprene mask solves problem.
My cold air asthma is 90 per cent better than it was before I quit smoking about 6 years ago. I used to get chronic bronchitis that lasted for months. Now it's just a little cough when I'm riding hard in cold dry air.

Notice the article says it's usually the dryness of the air, not the coldness that causes the problem. A humidifier at home might help you recover between rides.
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Old 02-14-08, 04:08 PM   #7
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I get an immediate reaction. As soon as I get home my throat fills with phlegm and I am coughing up lung pieces. Happens within minutes. The air in your house during the winter has less water than the cold air outside. The cold dry air from outside is warmed, expands and has less relative humidity. A furnace mounted humidifier is on my list.
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Old 02-14-08, 07:46 PM   #8
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Have you tried breathing through a scarf or other piece of cloth. I'd suspect the cloth would pick up a lot of vapor and really humidify (and warm) the air before it got to your mouth and lungs.

A humidifier would do wonders for you. No need to wait and save up for the fancy centralized variety. I have a large Kenmore I bought for $100 and it humidifies my whole house to 50%RH. (In other words: perfect, just like late spring). You can go even cheaper than that if you just want to humidify your bedroom. A $20 unit would work fine for that. You won't believe how much healthier you are.
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Old 02-16-08, 05:56 PM   #9
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I don't know if it's "cold-induced asthma" or what, but I used to get an awful feeling of really burning lungs when cycling in the cold and pushing hard (e.g. when going uphill). It was pretty unpleasant and did stick around for a couple of hours after the ride. It seems to have stopped though in the last couple of winters. Maybe I just don't push myself as hard any longer.
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Old 02-20-08, 02:49 PM   #10
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I have to use a bandanna or neoprene mask. If I use one no issues. If I don't I'm in real shyte shape. I'm a journeyman sheetmetal worker so installing a furnace mounted humidifier is about 30 minutes work. Just have to get around to it. On list of home improvements.
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Old 02-24-08, 01:04 PM   #11
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Frostbite, not breathing, is the main problem in low temps. If it is windy it does not even have to be very cold to do damage.
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Old 02-24-08, 04:16 PM   #12
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Frostbite, not breathing, is the main problem in low temps. If it is windy it does not even have to be very cold to do damage.
It still has to be pretty cold to worry about frostbite-- wind chills below -18F (-28C) for 30 minutes on exposed skin. That means actual air temperatures below 0F (-18C) along with high winds. NOAA (the US weather agency) doesn't even issue wind chill warnings until the wind chill is below -25F (-32C), IIRC.
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Old 02-24-08, 05:18 PM   #13
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Frostbite, not breathing, is the main problem in low temps. If it is windy it does not even have to be very cold to do damage.
It doesn't have to be windy for there to be significant windchill. We are, after all, on bikes and creating our own "wind".

That said, it'll get uncomfortable for you long before you're in danger of frostbite.
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Old 02-25-08, 01:16 AM   #14
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I found this chart on wikipedia:

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Old 02-25-08, 06:12 AM   #15
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We cyclists probably want to concern ourselves with the 10-20mph range, depending on how fast we ride...
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Old 03-01-08, 06:46 PM   #16
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I would look more at the 20-30 mph range. Headwinds make difference in windchill. Riding 15 mph into a 10mph headwind is 25 mph windchill.
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Old 03-03-08, 03:51 PM   #17
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I would look more at the 20-30 mph range. Headwinds make difference in windchill. Riding 15 mph into a 10mph headwind is 25 mph windchill.
Then you still don't have to worry about frostbite until the actual air temperature is zero degrees F. And that's only on exposed skin.

If you have to worry about something, worry about hypothermia when it's 50 degrees F and you're drenched through with cold rain.
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