How to warm up when cold in nature?
Learn specific exercises on how to get warm when you're cold in the outdoors

Each of us certainly remembers at least one unforeseen situation, when our body seemed completely powerless in comparison with ruthless outdoor conditions. In wintertime, you can find yourself in a similarly precarious situation surprisingly quickly, due to the extreme conditions. Because of the harsh outdoor temperatures and wind can a peaceful walk on the nearby meadow soon turn out into a veritable struggle for survival. Most often when we are caught unprepared.

Because of obtaining its energy reserves and ability to act in a similar situation the body protects itself from quick loss of body temperature by reducing blood flow through the tissues of our limbs. These adjustments can cause the core of the body to heat effectively longer, comprising all the important organs for life. Simply put, it could be said that the body in the complex process of thermoregulation consciously decides to “cool” our limbs so that it can longer maintain the temperature of our (body) core.

A solution usually exists for individuals who suffer from a more severe form of this disease with the help of targeted medical aid and treatment of any associated systemic diseases. In many other cases, the feeling of cold hands and cold feet, it is up to us to help ourselves. 

Arm and finger warm-up

The ability to relax our arms and shoulders lies in an assumption that we let our muscles relax as fully as possible. Tension in our neck must therefore be significantly reduced, our shoulder muscles have to soften and become loose. ‘Broad’ shoulders must be followed by loose, relaxed, and stretched fingers and wrists.


To begin with, try to warm-up your shoulders with a slow rotation of the extended arms. We start with the rotation of one arm in a forward direction, after 10 repetitions we start to slowly circle in the opposite direction. Velocity should not be our primary consideration during this exercise, we should be especially interested in the warm-up and relaxation of muscles involved (each arm – 10 repetitions in both directions).

Exercise 2 – JERKY SWINGS

As an effective method for additional warm-up, in case of cold feet, we can try swinging our arms in a stretched position above our head and all the way to the lowest position of arms in rest. 

We start using one hand which partially stretched above our head, then continue with a sharp descent and stronger punch downwards. We repeat this procedure quickly, but we take care of relaxed extension in elbows, wrists, and fingers. We have to feel the warm-up as if the heat with the help of gravity was jerkily ‘banging’ into the capillaries of our fingers!

After each 10th repetition, it is advisable to stop with the procedure for a short term and slightly shake our fingers and palms, especially if we feel a painful relief after partial cold feet, while blood is returning into our fingers (each arm – 20 to 30 repetitions). 


This method of warming up is composed of three related levels:

  • Basic position
    We approach the opposite outstretched palms so that fingers cross in a horizontal direction. Then we slightly bend our fingers in the shape of the letter C. Thumbs in this position remain outstretched and pressed to other fingers. All fingers are relaxed and lie closely against each other. 

  • Stretching
    Now we pull fingers and forearm steady in the opposite directions so that the pads of the fingers are still touching each other. The movement is carried out as if we wanted to pull each arm on the opposite side while using only a mild force for stretch. With this degree, like climbers on the rock wall, we equally activate many muscles in the forearm of our arm, which increases the blood flow towards them and consequently warms them up. We have to be careful to heat moderately!

  • Locked position 
    We proceed from the pre-stretch so that we move our hands towards each other and actively allow our fingers to closely compress in a hand. We activate even the smallest muscles when pressing your fingers into a fist, we activate even the smallest muscles that attach on our fingers, which will lead the warm blood faster all the way to the tips of our fingers. 

Repetitions: From a locked position we return back to the basic position and repeat everything a few times in a row. While in each position, hold for 5 seconds. During the performance, we should feel slight muscle fatigue, while we have to avoid excessive shakes and stretches that affect just the opposite!

Recommendation: The entire exercise can easily be performed even when using gloves. It is highly recommended to combine with the described procedure of jerky swings, which offers a very efficient supply of blood to the periphery of our hands.

Exercise 4 – Dynamic leg warm-up

After standing still and shivering in one place for a long time or perhaps at an unexpected contact with a sharp winter cold, it is advisable to warm-up muscles and joint tissues to a temperature level that will allow them unlimited physiological functioning. All of the above can be achieved through exercises that activate and once again relax most of the leg muscles, especially the muscles, which we intend to use in the continuation of our activity.

Advice: Using hiking poles will also provide additional support and include our arms in warming up.

Lateral crossing on the spot

It is very advisable to continue with a light activity which should include large muscle surface while being supported by the entire body. In the first stage, we begin with a slow lateral crossing from our right to our left foot. Our feet should not be entirely lifted, because toes should remain on the ground all the time while just transferring the weight from one side to another. 

The distance between our legs should initially be in the width of our shoulders. Later, we can slightly increase the distance. The same is with the velocity, which can be higher at the end of the exercise. It is also recommended to use walking poles, which provide better support in deeper snow (20 to 30 repetitions while taking care of natural, upright posture).

March on the spot

After initial warming up, we move our feet a little closer together then start with a slight and firstly very light march on the spot. We should lift our feet just a few inches from the floor in the initial steps then we can slowly increase the height of the step while maintaining a repetition rate (60 steps with both feet).

Triple flexion with walking poles

In this position, we try to evenly warm up and partially stretch all the major muscles and joints of our legs. We start with the support of walking poles or leaned against a tree or a nearby wall. Then we continue lifting our knee slightly higher than in the previous march. In a relaxed movement, we try to achieve a position of the right angle between the upright torso and the plane of our thighs. At the same time, we try to stretch our toes as much as possible. 

When we reach the highest point of the relaxed knee ascent, we hold this position for one second. At the same time, we try to additionally compress our toes together – as if we wanted to squeeze them in a fist. After a slow descent of our leg on the ground, we equally transfer our weight and repeat the process with the other leg (each leg – 10 repetitions while taking care of natural, upright posture).

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