Doing sport while out in the cold

Let’s admit it, doing sport outdoors at minus temperatures calls for special stamina. Read more about your options for braving the cold.
Fact is that large quantities of cold dry air are inhaled during physical exertion, and this cools and dries out the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. Therefore, anyone with cardiovascular problems, a heart condition or asthma, for example, should not engage in outdoor sporting activities at minus temperatures or should at least exercise caution. For people in good health, however, the cold is not a problem. They can continue to pursue their sporting hobbies during the winter months without any trouble. The following tips show what you need to look out for when doing sports during the cold season:

Breathe properly

At low temperatures you should always breathe through your nose as much as possible, because when breathing through the mouth, the mucous membranes dry out even more, and dirt and bacteria find their way unfiltered into the lungs. By contrast, air breathed in through the nose is filtered, moistened and warmed up.

Choose the right kind of sport

In the winter, gentle endurance sports with steady exertion are ideal, because you don’t breathe so fast and thus get sufficient air through the nose. Cross-country skiing, hiking, walking and jogging are especially suitable, while you’re better off doing interval and speed training indoors or postponing it until spring.

Choose the right clothing

We recommend wearing a hat while doing sports, because a lot of heat is lost via the head. Apart from this, the onion-skin principle applies; in other words, wearing several layers on top of one another, which can be peeled off or put back on as needed. Shorts should be avoided in the winter. Choose shoes and socks that always keep the feet warm and dry.

Pay attention to risks

In winter, too, it is advisable to warm up gradually before doing sports, because this prevents injuries. The training units should also not last too long, because the body cools off more quickly in the winter despite good equipment. To avoid colds as far as possible, you should put on dry clothes immediately after training.

When the ground is icy and covered in snow, the risk of missing a step or slipping and injuring yourself is especially high. In this case, we recommend that you do your training units on the home trainer or in the fitness studio. You should also remember to take a torch with you and wear reflective clothing when it’s dark.

Do something for your health

Exercise is important for your own fitness and for the heart and circulation. SWICA supports you in your personal preventive healthcare with generous contributions towards memberships with qualified fitness centres.


In the event of further health-related questions, SWICA customers can contact the santé24 telemedicine service free of charge on +41 44 404 86 86. A telemedicine practice licence allows santé24 physicians to provide additional medical services in cases that are suited to a telemedicine approach. SWICA customers can also use the BENECURA medical app to carry out a digital SymptomCheck and receive recommendations about what to do next. During a subsequent phone call with santé24, customers can decide for themselves whether to release their information from SymptomCheck to santé24.