by Marguerite Ferrara, Byrnes HEC Assistant Director of Education Services/Corporate Wellness
I don’t know about you, but I’m still picking sand out of my chap stick and I am not looking forward to the colder weather. Not only are the days longer and darker but the fresh fruits and veggies from my garden have gone the way of the 90 degree temps. I just wanted to give a shout out to all my fitness conscious friends. Don’t let the cooler temps derail your efforts.
First, remember the benefits of physical activity are life-long. Yes, it’s tougher to get motivated when you are all bundled up in bulky clothing. Our bodies just naturally want to conserve energy. We tend to be
less active and eat more. Add to that the fact that we have to get through the holidays and all of the extra stress and goodies that come along with them. Set goals and stay focused. You already know how great you feel and the confidence you get from a great workout. Think how awesome it will be when you head into spring as fit as ever, not spending the first few weeks trying to regain strength and stamina.
As with any type of activity, check with your doctor before starting. Don’t underestimate the power of sunshine. Winter can increase the incidence of depression, so exercise outdoors when you can. Dress appropriately. Wear layers. Start with a thin synthetic layer that will draw sweat away from the body. Avoid cotton which tends to stay damp. Add Fleece or wool for insulation and top it off with a water proof breathable outer layer. Remember that the blood tends to concentrate in the core so protect your head, ears, hands (mittens protect better than gloves) and feet. Consider buying shoes that are a little larger to make room for heavier thermal socks. Stay hydrated. Lower humidity dries the skin and mucous membranes of the nose, throat and lungs, increasing chances of getting an airborne illness. Warm up inside. Head into the wind to avoid the chill of the cold air against damp skin and don’t forget to get out of the wet clothes as soon as you can. I learned that one the hard way. A quick trip to the grocery store after meeting friends for a run, turned into a teeth chattering nightmare!
Be pre-emptive. Buddy up for motivation. Be flexible. If the weather is extreme, think about mall walks, a fitness class, swimming or volleyball. I’m a huge fan of exercise DVD’s and downloading routines. Make it a family activity with jump ropes, trampolines or game systems like Wii.
Here’s to staying fit, even in the winter. Eat healthy, get lots of rest, and stay social to avoid cabin fever.