There are a variety of other tips for walking in the cold to keep in mind. For example, cold weather is no reason to pack away your sunscreen. It's true that sunlight is weaker in the winter, but the ultraviolet rays that burn skin and raise the risk of developing certain types of skin cancer are still a threat.
When it is snowy and sunny, the reflected rays can burn your exposed skin, so it pays to apply sunscreen. If you use strong protection in the summer -- that is, SPF 15 or higher -- then use it in the winter, too. Alcohol-based sunscreens can add to the drying effects of the cold and wind and they don't stand up to perspiration as well as creamy ones do.
If you are driving to an out-of-the-way area to do your cold-weather walking, make sure you toss an extra set of warm clothing, a pair of shoes, and a blanket into the back seat of the car. This should be a regular emergency precaution -- like the spare tire in the trunk. You might also want to bring a thermos filled with a hot beverage.
If you do venture out in extremely cold weather, particularly if you're planning a long walk, it is wise to arrange to go with a walking companion. It's also a good idea to let someone at home know where you plan to walk and what time you plan to return, especially if it's very cold or if it's snowing.
Just as it is dangerous to drink alcohol and drive, it can be dangerous to drink and walk -- especially in winter. The reason is that alcohol dilates the blood vessels in your extremities, redirecting blood away from your vital organs and toward your face, feet, and hands. This gives you a dangerous illusion of warmth, when in reality precious heat is being pulled from your vital organs.
Alcohol also suppresses the natural shivering mechanism that helps generate heat. Like any other drug that impairs your judgment, alcohol can give you a false sense of well-being. You may literally forget when to come in from the cold.
Go to the next page to learn about cold weather and health problems.
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