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Outside Activity and Cold Weather
ATI Sports Medicine Offers Tips to Stay Safe
By Julie Gardner

As the leaves start to drop, and Old Man Winter starts knocking on your door, many dread the thought of taking their activities indoors...or abandoning them all together.

But, the impending arrival of the fall and winter months doesn't mean that indoor activities should be abandoned. Whether you're an athlete, an outdoor lover, or need a cure for cabin fever, the Sports Medicine Team at ATI Physical Therapy has some simple tips to keep you active...and the upcoming months.

"Many of the tips we follow in the summer months are just as important in the cold weather months," says Katie Varnado, ATC, athletic training supervisor with ATI Sports Medicine. "Regardless of activity level, stretching and warming-up is key to help prevent cramping, pain and injury, as muscles tend to contract in the cold. Also, staying hydrated, even when it's not hot, is important. Dehydration can be more difficult to notice during colder weather, so be sure to drink before, during and after activity."

The gear worn for outdoor activity should be adjusted as well, allowing for outdoor conditions.

1. Dress in Layers: Dressing too warmly can be a mistake, as exercise generates heat, making you feel warmer than it really is. Once sweat begins to dry, you can become chilled. Dress in fabrics that wick moisture away from your skin. This will keep you warm and dry, and the layers allow you to remove clothing, and put it back on as needed.

2. Protect your Hands, Feet and Ears: When it's cold, blood flow is concentrated on your body's core, leaving these areas vulnerable to frostbite. Plus, an uncovered head can release 50% of your body's heat.

3. Get the Right Shoes: Be sure your shoes provide extra traction for wet and slippery surfaces, and look for waterproof features that help keep your feet dry.

4. Be Seen: As the cold weather months approach, the amount of daylight dwindles. Be sure to dress in clothing that has reflective properties.

5. Pay Attention to Weather Conditions: Outside activity when it's cold...and wet...can make you more vulnerable to the temperature. If you get wet, you may not be able to keep your core body temperature high enough, and layering won't help if your clothes are soaked. If it's extremely cold with precipitation, or wind chills are extreme, consider taking a break.

ATI Physical Therapy is a nationally recognized comprehensive rehabilitation provider, specializing in research-based physical therapy and sports medicine. Known for exceptional results, personalized care, an inviting and energetic staff, and state-of-the-art equipment, ATI is taking physical therapy to a higher level.

If an injury is sidelining you, visit one of our over 190 clinics in seven states for a complimentary injury screening. Visit for more information.


Michele Wilkinson - Trainer at the Riverfront Athletic Club in Janesville, WI

Are you looking to train for your very first 5K?

I remember the thought of doing my first 5K almost 9 year ago. The task seemed impossible. As of today, I have countless 5K's and other larger races under my belt. You can definitely do it too!

Here are a few things that one should keep in mind when preparing for their first race. First, what is your fitness level? Are you currently active? Walking, running, biking, swimming or playing other sports? If so, you are well on your way. If you are new to exercise, my suggestion is to start out slow. The main reason being to stay injury free. If one starts out too quickly, injuries can pop up. It's also best to get fitted for a proper pair of running shoes. Many of the running specific stores will aide you in finding the pair that works best for your foot type and strike.

If you are new to exercise, start by walking a mile 5 days a week during the first week. Increasing the mileage to 1.5 miles of walking in week two. Week three, try walking 3 minutes, running 1 minute. Week 4, walk 2 minutes, running 1 minute. Continue this gradual increase until you feel comfortable running 1 mile. Another great motivator to aide in your success is to find a friend/partner/spouse/sibling to train with you. Make it fun!

When you feel comfortable running 1 mile, it is time to pick your race. There are so many 5K choices in most areas. is a great resource to find a local race near you or ask friends that you know that are runners. They are always happy to share where and when the upcoming races are and will also be happy to share their favorites with you. Give yourself about 8 weeks to train (that is, again, after you feel comfortable with that consistent mile run).

Below is a 5K training plan that has worked for me and many people I know. Please read all of the information and go with what works best for you. The training plan is a guide. If the exact days the plan asks you to do certain distances doesn't work for you, adjust it to work with your schedule. Consistency is the key. Go for it and I hope to see you at the finish line!!