How to Exercise Safely During the Cold Season

When winter’s long and cold days descend, it can be hard to wake up in the morning, let alone exercise outside.

However, exercising outdoors is good for your body and mind any time of year, especially during the winter months—as long as you pay attention to a few rules regarding safety, gear and the type of exercise. By taking these measures, cold-weather workouts can be comfortable, injury-free and most important, fun.

Note—Talk to your doctor before you brave the cold outdoors. Exercise should be safe for almost everyone, even in plummeting temperatures. But if you have certain chronic conditions, such as Raynaud’s disease, asthma, or heart issues, consult with your doctor first to review any precautions to take based on your condition.

The Primary Risks

Frostbite

During the cold season, there are exercise-related dangers that go beyond slipping on ice and falling.

Frostbite is a cold-induced injury that occurs when unprotected skin is in direct contact with the cold air for an extended period, “freezing” in the process. This usually happens when skin temperatures drop below 30 degrees F. Susceptible areas include the cheeks, nose and ears, as well as the hands and feet.

Fortunately, frostbite isn’t technically an acute injury—it doesn’t strike out of the blue. Stop it in its tracks by paying attention to the following signs:

  • Tingling sensations
  • Burning
  • Aching
  • Numbness
  • Skin redness

If you suspect frostbite, get out of the cold quickly, and warm the affected area by running it under lukewarm water. Never rub the area as doing so may further damage your skin. Seek medical attention if symptoms don’t subside.

Hypothermia

One of the challenging and potentially life-threatening risks of winter training is hypothermia. This condition consists of an abnormal drop in body temperature, plummeting to dangerous levels. It happens when your body fails to warm itself, losing more heat than it produces, especially when core temperature dips below 95 degrees F.

When this occurs, your vital systems, especially your cardiovascular and nervous systems, cease to function properly and leads to heart trouble, respiratory failure and even death.

The key to preventing hypothermia is heeding the early warning signs. These include:

  • Abnormal fast breathing
  • Inability to think clearly
  • Fumbling or difficult movements
  • Intense shivering
  • Loss of focus and coordination
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Confusion and/or poor decision making.
  • Pain in extremities

As soon as you experience two or more of these side effects, stop running on the spot, and get into a warm bath. This should help get your temperature up. Showing no improvement? Call 9-1-1 immediately.

 

Follow these guidelines for exercising safely during the cold months.

Re-Think Your Clothing

The first step to prepare for cold-weather outdoor exercise is getting the right attire. Suitable materials include nylon, polyesters, and polypropylene. The best combination is to mix these technical fabrics that wick away moisture while keeping your body dry and warm. Wool or fleece, along with a water-proof, wind-resistant outer layer all work well.

Avoid cotton. The stuff soaks up sweat and rain, and holds in moisture.

Here’s your essential workout gear when stocking for the winter season.

  • Medium-weight base layer shirt
  • Hat, headband, or ski mask
  • Running gloves or mittens
  • A running jacket
  • Running tights or pants
  • Merino wool socks or those made of technical fabric

Use Layers

Layers help trap warm air next to your body and fend off the elements while keeping you warm and comfortable the entire time. They can also be easily removed as conditions change during your workout.  Zip or unzip your running jacket, remove your mittens or take off a mid-layer to adjust as you run.

Start with a thin, basic layer of high-performance fabric to soak up to excess sweat away from your skin. Then, add a mid-layer of fleece or wool for extra insulation and warmth.

For your outer layer—or the shell—a light water-resistance jacket works best.  This helps expel moisture and protect you from the elements.

The 10-Degree Rule

Regardless of how cold it is, you’ll warm up quickly once you start working up a sweat. That’s why when choosing gear for cold-weather exercise, the rule of thumb is to dress as if it’s 10 to 15 degrees warmer than the actual outside temperature—no matter how tempting is to overdress to stave off the cold.

Of course, you’ll feel cold at first, but once you start moving and raising your core temperature, you’ll find yourself much more comfortable.

Freezing Levels

When temperatures dip to freezing levels, blood flow is prioritized to the core, so be sure to protect your extremities such as your head, hands, and feet from the cold. Since we lose a large percentage of body heat through the head, headcover is non-negotiable.  A hat or headband protects your ears and head. For extreme cold wear a ski mask, scarf, or balaclava to cover your face.

Protect your hands with a thin pair of glove liners made of technical fabric—such as polypropylene—under a pair of mittens lined with fleece or wool.

Last but not least, protect your feet. Opt for socks that wick away moisture while keeping your feet warm. Think SmartWool socks. Also, make sure the shoes are one half-size bigger than you usually wear to allow wiggle room for thick or multiple socks.

To avoid slipping or falling, choose sports shoes with enough traction to prevent falls, especially if it’s snowy or icy.  You can also use special traction devices that attach to your trainers, such as Yaktrax.

Keep it Close

Keep your running routes close to home base. Choose a well-lit, familiar, loop that’s relatively short, especially if you’re running alone. Avoid exercising anywhere you don’t feel completely safe.

Be Seen

When it’s dark outside, you must be visible to other people, especially motorists. Put on reflective, light-colored clothing, such as fluorescent yellow or white, to help you be better seen by drivers, bikers, and pedestrians.

Consider wearing a lightweight headlamp or donning a flashing light, especially early in the morning or late in the evening.  Run against traffic, drivers will see you more easily and you will see them.

Carry Your Essentials

Have some cash and cell phone so in case of an emergency. I recommend that you carry a Road ID bracelet that contains your name, age, blood type, and emergency contacts—you know, all the important things just in case.

Conclusion

Fortunately, many of the risks associated with exercising in winter can be easily thwarted by listening to your body, dressing appropriately and taking the right safety measures.

Please feel free to leave your winter workouts stories and questions in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep exercising strong.

Guest Author: David Dack

About the author:

David Dack is an established fitness blogger and running expert. When he’s not training for his next marathon, he’s doing research and trying to help as many people as possible to share his fitness philosophy. Check his blog Runners Blueprint for more info.

Splish Splash Doggie Bash: Dogs Take Last Dip for the Summer

Over 1,000 humans and dogs alike came to Piedmont Park’s Aquatic Center and Pool to attend this year’s Splish Splash Doggie Bash on October 5 and 6. Ending the summer season with a bang, the Park welcomed four-legged swimmers to take a dip before draining the pool for the fall and winter season. The pool party also offered human friendly bar for dog parents, as well as giveaways, including toys, treats, bandanas and coupons from participating vendors.

Photo credit: Rick Moll

The Piedmont Park Conservancy hosts Splish Splash Doggie Bash every year to raise funds for the Piedmont Park Dog Parks. The Park offers three acres for dogs to run off-leash, separate enclosures for large and small dogs, new trails and landscaping, shady areas, benches and restrooms for dog parents, dog water spickets and weekend concessions including King of Pops with dog popsicles for good boys and girls alike.

Photo credit: Rick Moll

To support the dog parks this holiday season, buy a bone with your pup’s name on it! Learn more at: https://www.piedmontpark.org/support-the-park/dogparksupport/

Author: Jessica Vue

Celebrating 15 Years of Fresh Produce at Green Market

Imagine, it’s a beautiful Saturday morning in April where the trees blossom and the birds sing. On this day, the Piedmont Park Conservancy introduces the Green Market to the public as part of its Centennial Celebration. Crowds of people stare in amazement as they await the unveiling. This is the start of something new.

We are proud to commemorate 15 years of Green Market at Piedmont Park. The Conservancy first introduced the Green Market on April 17, 2004 in partnership with the City of Atlanta Bureau of Cultural Affairs. As a key sponsor and supporter of the program, Kaiser Permanente greatly contributed to the Green Market’s success over the years. Since its debut, the program has influenced the diet and lifestyle of millions of visitors in the heart of Atlanta. 

In the beginning, the Green Market featured high quality, locally-grown produce, prepared goods, flowers, herbs and other specialty items. The program included chef demonstrations designed to showcase how fresh produce could be prepared at home and live music from local bands as entertainment. Now, the Green Market has board-certified dietitians who guide guests in their path of health and nutrition while utilizing market produce. Also, there is a kid-friendly activity center for guests with small children.

 “Green Market gives walkable access to local fresh produce, meat, baked goods and more. How amazing is it to walk out your door on a Saturday morning and do your shopping in one location?!” said Green Market Manager Mary Yetter.

Over the past decade, the staff at the Conservancy have played an integral part in the development of the Green Market. The program has been voted one of the top five farmer’s markets in Atlanta by Access Atlanta, and is currently available on Saturdays, March 30 – November from 9am to 1pm at 12th Street entrance.

In response to this momentous occasion, the Conservancy is hosting a party to celebrate Green Market’s 15th anniversary. Save the date for September 21, 2019.

This blog is in memory of Carrie Jennison, who helped establish the Green Market.

Author: Amari Woods

Stop and Listen to the Birds Sing

If you’ve ever walked through Piedmont Park on a gorgeous spring day, you’ve likely been surrounded by the songs of more bird species than you realized were there. Before moving to Atlanta nine years ago, I could identify maybe five common songbirds and a few birds of prey, probably the same ones everyone knows. Though it’s nothing compared to dedicated birders, ornithologists, or even semi-serious hobbyists, I can easily ID three dozen or so now.

I’ve been lucky; most of my bird knowledge came to me through the grace of others- Books gifted from friends and family, bits of knowledge gleaned from birders, photographers, and friends who know more than me. Gray and brown birds on my home feeders, once lost in the fray, now stand out as chipping sparrows, house finches, brown-headed nuthatches, and several others.

Now I cannot help but notice dozens of species of birds when I’m outside. For me, lack of knowledge was a symptom of a lack of observation, and changing that behavior opened me up to an entire world.

Working in Piedmont Park, I take in as much as I can in between tasks, but as a park visitor you have the chance to sit back and observe. I strongly recommend you take advantage of sitting down on a bench, looking, listening, and noticing the birds. See if you can start picking them out by their call or colors.

Carolina Wren

With all that’s going on in our lives, it’s easy to inadvertently ignore all the different species of birds around you. For instance, the Carolina Wren as he, (only the males of the species sing) sings in a voice too big for his body. No doubt, if you live almost anywhere in the southeast, you have heard this call, but could you identify the wren by his song? If you saw him, would you recognize the shape of his body, upright tail, the white “eyebrow” line, or his thin, curving beak? These details, relied upon by birders, can easily go unnoticed unless we stop to see them.

Pileated Woodpecker

Over the sound of chirps, whistles, and trills, you may hear a distinct knocking on wood. A woodpecker will hammer on a tree in search of insects for lunch, or dig a hollow for a nest. If you can spot them, you’ll notice that they’re all some variation of black and white, usually with degrees of red on their heads. With the common downy woodpecker, a small red mark is a defining characteristic of the male. See the relatively large red bellied woodpecker, and you’ll likely wonder why it’s called that, since its bright head is redder than its belly. Let’s not forget the most famous (and largest) woodpecker, the pileated. The pileated woodpecker can be elusive, but you might find one feasting on grubs from a rotted tree trunk.

Brown Thrasher

Spring and fall turn the park into a hotbed for migratory birds avoiding harsh northern winters or revisiting breeding grounds, which creates great opportunity for interesting sightings. We have the easily recognizable northern cardinal, vibrant red (the females are more pinkish brown) with its bright orange beak, the American robin, foraging for worms on the ground in groups with their rusty orange chests and white rings around their eyes, and our friend from earlier, the Carolina wren. The northern mockingbird, a particularly vocal gray songster, can spout a dozen tunes in the span of a minute. They can have hundreds of songs in their repertoire, but our Georgia state bird, the brown thrasher, can have over a thousand!

American Robin

With the noise of civilization around us, birds provide a natural, meditative escape through their songs, their call and response, and variety in countless species. Whether or not you desire to know them all by name, or if you just want to enjoy their songs and observe their behavior, I sincerely hope that you take the  time (and now’s a good time to do it) to ignore everything else and focus on our feathered friends for a bit- watch, listen and be humbled by them. Learn a little or a lot, you’ll be richer for the experience- I promise.

Want to learn more about bird life in Piedmont Park? Sign up for one of our bird walks! https://www.piedmontpark.org/sightseeing-and-tours/

Author: Michael Paul

Photo Credits: Kevin Gaston

What You Missed at This Year’s Doggie Dash and 5K

On Sunday, March 10, the Piedmont Park Conservancy hosted its 6th annual Doggie Dash and 5K, and it was a hit! Over 130 people and their pups showed up on a cool Sunday morning for the race. The energy was high, the barking was loud, and the dashers were ready to take off!

With their owners in tow, the dogs turned on the jets and began their Doggie Dash journey. While some of the dogs were ready to take on the whole 5K, others participated in the less intense one-mile dash. Either way, all pups were geared up and ready to go!

Lizzie Colville was the first place winner for the Women’s bracket coming in at 21 minutes and 41 seconds, and Rob Mullet came in first for the men finishing the race in just 16 minutes and 22 seconds! Winners at the various levels received prizes from Spa Sydell, The W Hotel Midtown, City Tap, Park Tavern and Phidippides Running Store.

This event was a great success, raking in over $3,400, all of which goes toward maintaining the Piedmont Park Dog Parks. With over 700,000 dogs visiting the dog parks each year, the Conservancy needs all the help it can get to ensure pooches can enjoy the off-leash dog parks.

Want to stay informed about upcoming dog related events? Click the link and visit our calendar. You won’t want to miss the next one!

https://www.piedmontpark.org/calendar/

Author: Olivia Gage

Spotlight: MindBody at Piedmont Park

With its signature mix of natural aesthetics, historic beauty, and modern interiors, Piedmont Park’s Greystone was the perfect setting for MindBody and their 2019 Regional Sales Kick Off. The wellness-focused tech company learned about Piedmont Park’s Conservancy venues from their marketing team and were quick to secure their winter date.

This was a big meeting for MindBody. The event would both recap the East Coast Sales team on 2018 accomplishments, as well as showcase goals and upcoming changes for 2019. Tina Palmer, West Coast Sales Administrative Assistant, lead the planning and coordination. She needed a venue that could go the extra mile to help her host a successful event from out of state.

“Chelsea Dahl was my favorite! Planning events from across the country is extremely difficult, but Chelsea made it seemingly easy. Since I had never seen or used the venue before, she was my eyes and ears. Throughout the entire event planning process, she was helpful and accommodating and was able to adapt our many changes before and during our event!”

- Tina Palmer

The event went off without a hitch! Golf cart shuttles began early in the morning, bringing visitors on a short ride through the Park to the venue. Upon arrival, guests enjoyed breakfast fare by Carlyle’s Catering and sipped coffee while admiring the views of Lake Clara Meer from Greystone’s waterfront terrace.

“The views were GORGEOUS, and the building was unique and historical! The Piedmont Park Conservancy staff was extremely helpful and easy to work with,” says Palmer. “My team LOVED Piedmont Park! They were very impressed with the views and history behind the venue.”

MindBody normally hosts sales-related events such as kickoffs, company training sessions, team building activities, and happy hours. When asked if they would return to Piedmont Park for an event, Palmer replied “Yes, I would love to come back! The Piedmont Park Conservancy was very easy to work with and made destination planning very easy.”

To begin planning your event at Piedmont Park, contact Chelsea Dahl at cdahl@piedmontpark.org or call (404) 537-2831. Also, visit our the corporate event webpage at https://www.piedmontpark.org/corporate/

Best Ways to Preserve Nature while Hiking

Hiking and walking is a great way to get healthy exercise and clear your head. People of all ages and abilities can enjoy the scenic views and trail hikes at Piedmont Park, which offers some of the most beautiful nature preserves in the area.

If you’ve visited Piedmont Park before, you know its popular destinations, such as the Meadow or the Dog Parks. Just north of those locations though, there’s a path that leads you through a tucked away tree-lined expansion to the Park. Now you have 53 acres of land to explore! This land expansion happened in 2011 to boast nature trails and conservation areas.

When you venture on the trails, it’s very important that you not disturb or destroy the natural landscape and the delicate ecosystem of the area. Make sure that you follow these rules, so that you can preserve that natural beauty and not cause any harm to the animals or plants that here.

If You Pack it In, Pack it Out

Everything you bring to the trail should leave with you. That includes things like water bottles, food wrappers and containers, tissues, and any other debris that you might have brought with you. Even food should be taken out with you again. There are trash and recycling bins once you return to the main areas of the Park.

Don’t Feed the Wildlife

It’s very exciting to see all kinds of wildlife when you’re out in the forest that you may not see in everyday life, such as our rare species of birds and our Eastern Screech Owl.

However, you shouldn’t try to feed these animals while you are out on your hike. It may seem harmless, but animals may rely on humans for that food in the future. It’s similar to giving your dog a piece of meat from your plate during dinner. Do you think your dog will want to go back to eating dog food?

So, it’s a good practice to observe and admire the wildlife from a distance. It will keep you and the animals safe from harm.

Keep Dogs on a Leash

While dogs are some of the best hiking companions you could ever ask for, they aren’t always on their best behaviors. You should always have your dog on a leash in case you find something that may tempt your dog to run away.

Be sure to keep your dog to the right of the trail to avoid any potential collisions with other trail users. No one wants to see waste when they are walking the trail — it’s unsightly and unsanitary. So, don’t forget to bring those doggie bags and take any dog waste out with you. Keep the trail clean for others to enjoy, too!

Stay on the Trail

If you are walking on a designated trail or path, you shouldn’t venture off into other areas. While it may seem harmless, you risk damaging the plants of the surrounding area. Those plants are a major source of food for a lot of animals! Not only that, but just stepping off the trail can contribute to erosion. It will leave a beaten down path that will entice others to do the same.

When you skirt a muddy area, you are broadening the trail and causing damage. Head down the center of the hiking trail and through the mud to prevent trail widening.

Choosing Your Clothes

Did you know that even the clothes you wear can affect the environment? It’s highly encouraged to wear eco-friendly clothing. Be sure to wear clean clothing and shoes before each new hike so you don’t take along any insects or seeds that aren’t native to the other area.

If you’re looking to get rid of clothes, don’t just toss them! Many articles of clothing consist of synthetic, non-biodegradable fiber and will just pile up in the landfill. Instead, consider donating your unwanted clothing, or recycle them in a textile bin.

Remember that your actions, small or large, have an enormous impact on our environment. It’s up to you to make the changes necessary to protect it.

As Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said:

“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.”

Guest Post by Personal Injury Law

Author’s Note: The information in this article was provided by Personal Injury Law, an organization dedicated to providing the public with information about personal injury and safety information. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice, and it is intended for informational use only.

Exploring Piedmont Park’s Northwoods

One of Atlanta’s best features is its easy access to incredible outdoor experiences in the Appalachians. For this reason, many of us can’t imagine living in a city without a short drive to abundant natural space. But for those who feel a lot more relaxed outside, midweek in the city can start to feel a little too cramped. Luckily, you don’t have to wait for the weekend!

You are probably familiar with Piedmont Park’s popular destinations like the Meadow, or the Dog Parks, and all 200 plus acres of the Park are great places to spend some time outdoors. Just north of those locations, though, the paths lead you through a tucked away tree lined expansion to the Park. This is over 53 acres added in 2011 that boast nature trails and conservation areas, Legacy Fountain, the Northwoods, and the Piedmont Commons. After a brief foray through these paths you’re sure to find your breathing calmed and eyes open to the chirping birds, rustling chipmunks, and all the colors of life. Here are some amazing views in the Piedmont Park expansion that feel miles away from the city.

Where better in the Park to sit and read or write for an hour, or two, or three or four? You don’t get the distractions of festivals out here, just the ambient sounds of nature and the words on the page!

A short walk past the Conservancy offices is the Promenade Lawn, a beautiful clearing on a plateau in the treetops to the east.

A look at forest serenity, but only a stone’s throw from your door! Find the wooden staircase in the Walker Woods for these unpaved views.

Another great place to sit and read, you can find this stone mini-theater in the Six Springs Wetland near the Dog Parks.

Straight outta Narnia, you find yourself on the other side of the wardrobe in the Northwoods’ forested paths.

Author: William Lange

Over 900 Dogs at Splish Splash Doggie Bash

On October 6th and 7th, over 900 dogs had the time of their lives – courtesy of Piedmont Park Conservancy and its 10th annual Splish Splash Doggie Bash. This special event allows dogs to have the Piedmont Park Aquatic Center all to themselves and was a hit among the dog owners and lovers of Atlanta, so much so that it sold out! Lines formed early Saturday and Sunday morning full of excited pups of all shapes and sizes ready to get their paws wet and owners ready to make their dogs’ wildest dreams come true.

The Conservancy stocked the pool with tennis balls and Frisbees galore, and opened the gates to doggie heaven for all the anxious pups waiting outside. Whether it was swimming, playing fetch in the grass, or making new friends, the dogs had a blast. Thanks to Victory Brewing Company, the dog owners were able to kick back, grab a beer and watch their pups take it all in. After the first session of the weekend, many people thought just an hour and 15 minutes wasn’t enough for their loyal companions, so they purchased tickets for more sessions. Some even attended all of the sessions!

The dog vendors were also a highlight of this years’ event. Many vendors set up tables by the pool and displayed their products for the owners to choose from. Needless to say, many lucky pups went home with some tasty new treats.

Overall Splish Splash Doggie Bash was a huge success and raised necessary funds for the Conservancy’s three acre off-leash dog park. It’s definitely something you won’t want to miss in the coming years!

Author: Olivia Gage

Love dog events? Check out Doggie Dash which occurs every March!

New Exhibitat Welcomes Home the Chimney Swift

The Atlanta Audubon Society, in partnership with the Piedmont Park Conservancy, City of Atlanta Parks and Recreation Department, has installed a new home for an exceptional little bird known as the Chimney Swift. You may have already noticed the chimney-like tower in the northern area of Piedmont Park called the Piedmont Commons. It sits amidst a verdant field of flowers and grasses that will attract pollinators and other insects, which fosters a vibrant and exciting natural habitat for the chimney swift to prosper.

This new addition to wildlife preservation in Piedmont Park blends perfectly with the Conservancy’s Field Trip programs, bringing another unique and important education opportunity to the children of Atlanta as they interact with nature. The tower and surrounding area also presents a new beautiful aesthetic for all to enjoy in the North area of the Park!

The unveiling was a lively and creative event which kicked off with local nonprofits and artists participating in a chalk festival. Each chalk display showed a little piece of the organization’s soul and passion for Georgia conservation efforts, and proved that members of these organizations have no shortage of artistic skill!

Thank you, Krystal Collier and Kalia Edmonds, for your amazing chalk contribution!

Chalk Festival Winner: Sierra Club

After the festival, guests mingled and viewed the tower while enjoying cheese, fruit, and an Orpheus beer brewed specially for the occasion, aptly named “Little Birds Have Fast Hearts.” Since the Chimney Swift tower was the result of great partnerships between multiple nonprofits to bring a dream to life, there were many speakers contributing words of support and gratitude.

“If we are able to expose our kids to nature, I believe that we can solve a lot of the world’s problems,” says Piedmont Park Conservancy President & CEO Mark Banta, as he explains how this tower is a great addition to our camp and field trip program.

Finally, to celebrate the official grand opening of the tower, the event concluded with a ribbon cutting.

From Left to Right: Mark Banta, Jan Harralson, Dan Calvert, Jason Ward, Councilwoman Jennifer Ide, Lillie Kline, Nikki Belmonte, Ron Salzer, and Esther Stokes.

You may still be asking yourself, who is this bird, and what does the tower do for it?

The Chimney Swift loves living in tight spaces with a large group of other Chimney Swifts, and due to their very short legs, they can only perch on vertical surfaces. Over the years, this has led these birds to most commonly find a home in the chimneys of human houses. Chimneys, however, are on the decline, leaving many Chimney Swifts hard-pressed to find a suitable living situation. Piedmont Park’s new Chimney Swift tower will be the perfect new home for many as they begin to gather after their mating season. Don’t forget to watch for the little aerobatic birds coming and going from Piedmont Park’s new chimney!

Author: William Lange