Cold Hands & Exercise

Stretching After Jogging
Keep your hands warm while you exercise. (Image: m-gucci/iStock/Getty Images)

Cold hands can prove bothersome, but icy hands that last for long periods of time and hamper your everyday activities can be worse. Cold hands and exercise are linked in an interesting way. Exercise can sometimes be the cause of your glacial sensations, but it can also be the key to treatment in some cases.

Causes of Cold Hands

The causes of cold hands while or after you exercise can vary from one person to the next. The weather plays a major role; exercising in the winter may cause severe coldness in both your hands and your feet. Circulation problems might also rear their ugly heads more frequently during a workout. Raynaud's disease is another possible reason for experiencing cold hands during exercise. Raynaud's is a syndrome in which your hands and feet become very cold, turn white or blue in color and may ache, especially when circulation returns to your extremities.


One of the primary dangers of cold hands while exercising outdoors is developing frostbite. Frostbite can cause irreversible damage to your skin tissues. Wearing several pairs of gloves to prevent cold hands is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself against frostbite when you exercise. Layer thin, insulated or moisture-wicking gloves underneath heavier gloves or mittens that provide warmth against the low temperatures and biting winds.


Exercises can help you avoid cold hands by pumping up your circulation. Fist pumps -- opening and closing your fists several times -- not only help the blood circulate throughout your hands and fingers, they can counter the stiffness you might feel when your hands are cold. Wrist rotations perform a similar function. Shoulder rotations -- hunching your shoulders forward and then backward -- can also temper the coldness in your hands and arms.

Exercise and Raynaud's Disease

Exercise can be a non-medical, non-invasive form of treatment and prevention for Raynaud's disease. Exercise, in whatever form you enjoy, promotes better circulation and can be a natural stress-reliever as well. Physical and emotional stress can be triggers for Raynaud's; you may find yourself having more episodes when you are feeling the pressure mount. Increase your level of activity and you may see a decrease in the characteristic cold hands and loss of sensation.

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