Winter Running

Today’s “Love Your Health” includes tips for running when winter temperatures drop.

When the temperatures drop, my natural inclination — and I’m positive I’m not alone — is to “take to the bed” with my mamaw’s quilt, a cup of decaf tea and a good book. Running when the temperatures drop below forty, takes a lot of the joy out of it for me and I can only take so many miles on the treadmill. Throw in a time change, all those holiday treats and you’ve got a recipe for the winter blahs with a few extra pounds as a not so nice gift.

Dropping temperatures, driving to and from work in the dark, sure isn’t a mood booster but a real motivation downer. Research tells us that staying active and moving your body in a healthy way actually helps improve not only your physical wellbeing but also your mood.

This week let’s cover some ways to stay active, keep that motivation up and even a healthy, very winter themed recipe.

Take a walk, preferably outside. Pam Tillis, my old beagle, does not let us forget about her daily walk, no matter the temperatures. Get out with your pet, a family member or friend. Let the sun hit your face, remember vitamin D serves many important functions, and breathing in a little cool, crisp air is good for the heart in more ways than one. Stroll through your neighborhood — thankfully we live in a lovely cul de sac — or hit up one of Greene County’s many lovely walking trails. I still love a walk or run through downtown, The Tusculum Trail, or the walking path at the former Laughlin Memorial, now Greeneville Community Hospital.

If you’re wondering what to wear when exercising outside once the temperatures drop, I read a very helpful article at To summarize it for you they advised that at 30 degrees you should aim for two layers on top, like a long sleeve as a base layer and either a jacket or vest with tights or pants for your bottom half. For ten to twenty degrees, you need to up your game to two layers on top and two on bottom. If you are wearing tights – preferably a brand known for keeping in heat – wind pants over the tights was their recommendation. Now, Runner’s World goes on to cover zero and below, even negative ten degrees, but I’m going to tell you to keep it inside here in East Tennessee if it is that cold. That’s what I’ll be doing at least. The treadmill, a free workout video or some good old-fashioned brisk housework sounds much better to me. I’m hesitant to go out when it comes to those extreme temperatures. Hey, I didn’t grow up in Minnesota.

I also never leave the house without gloves or a toboggan while exercising outdoors and in fact, I keep a set in my car. I feel like once I get moving my arms and legs feel fine, but if my feet or hands are cold, I’m probably throwing in the towel early. Keeping your head warm is also important as we know body heat easily escapes through your head. Also, who wants cold ears? Miserable.

Winter, spring, summer, or fall the CDC still recommends at least 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity. This doesn’t have to mean lacing up your sneakers for a run every day. Sledding, shoveling snow, snowball fights, putting up and taking down Christmas decorations, walking, and anything that gets the heart “beeping,” as my little girl calls it, counts. Breaking it down to 30 minutes a day, five days a week, makes it feel much more manageable.

Without further ado, a yummy recipe, perfect for if it ever snows here in East Tennessee. I like this one because in case we miss out on one of those glorious, lovely winter dustings you can substitute ice!


From the blog

Gimme Some Oven


1 cup milk (any kind)

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pinch salt

8 cups clean snow or shaved ice (more or less, depending on the density of the snow)

optional topping: sprinkles!

Instructions: In a large bowl, whisk milk, sugar, vanilla and salt together until combined. Go scoop up some fresh (clean!) snow, and immediately stir it into the milk mixture until you reach your desired consistency. (The ice cream should be fluffy, not runny. But it melts quickly, so dive in quickly.)

Top with sprinkles or other ice cream toppings if desired and enjoy!

Consume fresh snow at your own risk. My mom would not approve of this activity or recipe.

How do you stay motivated when the temperatures drop? Your favorite way to stay active in the winter months? I’d love to hear from you!

Jessica Barnett is a Southwest Virginia girl married to a Greeneville native, a mom, personal trainer, certified fitness nutrition specialist, runner, herbivore and ice cream lover. To learn about working with Jessica, prospective clients may email

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