A guest post by Jason Lewis/ opens in a new windowStrongwell.org
Research suggests the average person gains opens in a new windowfive to seven pounds each winter. It’s not just the abundance of holiday sweets that contributes to this annual packing on of the pounds. Cold weather and shorter daylight hours often put people into hibernation mode, but humans aren’t bears! There is no need to cease all physical activity until spring rolls around. Here are some tips on how you can stay fit and focused when the weather outside is frightful.
Shred the all-or-nothing mentality
When it comes to vices like sugar or alcohol, you often hear that moderation is the key. The same logic can be used when you lack motivation to do something you know is good for you. If your normal workout routine requires extended periods of time outside, lowering the intensity or shortening the length of your workouts during the winter months is acceptable—just don’t give up your routine completely. If you don’t already have a set workout routine, you don’t have to wait until ideal weather conditions arrive to get started. Even just opens in a new window20 minutes of exercise three or four times a week goes a long way toward preventing obesity and keeping your heart healthy. It will also build healthy habits and make it easier for you to ramp up your exercise routines once the weather warms up. Plus, “Not only does exercise opens in a new windowreduce stress, but it also boosts your positive, motivating emotions, too. Part of this is biology — the body is regulating itself during exercise, but it also has to do with seeing and feeling the results of your efforts,” reports ADrugRehab.org.
Know the weather conditions
Before heading outdoors, you should always check your weather forecast for the current and expected temperature, opens in a new windowwind chill, and precipitation. Understanding how these factors interact with each other is key to knowing how to dress appropriately and stay safe from frostbite or hypothermia. The risk of frostbite is low when it’s 0 degrees Fahrenheit with calm winds. However, if the wind is blowing 15 miles per hour, that produces a wind chill factor of -19 degrees, and frostbite can occur with just 30 minutes of exposure. Similarly, opens in a new windowhypothermia can occur at much higher temperatures—around 50 degrees Fahrenheit—if other conditions are met. Exposure to wet snow, sleet, or rain can rapidly drop your body temperature. Once you understand these weather-related risks, you can plan around them.
When it comes to working out during the winter, it’s all about opens in a new windowembracing layers. You should start with enough layers to keep yourself warm at the beginning of your workout. Then, when your body generates enough heat and you begin to warm up, you can remove layers as needed. This will keep you safer and more comfortable through your entire workout cycle.
Your layers should consist of several types of materials. A thin, synthetic material makes a good base layer because it will keep sweat off your body. Fleece or wool is best for insulation. Something windproof and waterproof is ideal as your top layer. Figuring out what layer-combo works best for you and your physical activity may take some experimenting, but mastering it may be the key to your comfort and commitment during cold weather.
Consult with your doctor
Exercising during the winter months is safe for almost everyone, but there are certain medical conditions that may be aggravated by cold-weather conditions. People with asthma, poor blood circulation, heart problems, and other medical conditions should opens in a new windowconsult their doctor to determine what type of exercise is most appropriate and whether any additional precautions should be taken to further minimize risk.
The important thing to remember is that regardless of what your individual circumstances are, there is a winter workout regimen available. If you plan ahead and stay motivated, you can stay fit and fabulous year-round.
Photo credit: opens in a new windowPixabay