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Posted on 12-08-2014

Stay Active In Cold Weather

It’s cold outside, now WHAT? Many people enjoy the simple pleasure of being outside when it comes to their exercise routine. Along with a boost in physical fitness, exercising outside has other benefits such as lungs full of fresh air and a healthy dose of natural and much needed vitamin D from the sun. Along with the cold people create many excuses in order to avoid exercise when the seasons change: It’s too cold, I will catch a cold or get sick…

With many parts of the country spending 3 to 6 months under cold and sometimes freezing weather we really can't afford not to exercise, both for our physical and psychological sake. So instead of hanging your running shoes with the arrival of our expected arctic blasts, find creative ways to stay active, indoors or in the great outdoors, but maintaining an exercise regimen through the holidays and beyond will not only keep you fit, but also give you a head start come spring.

Find New Outdoor Activities

If you are one of those people who don’t like to exercise inside or stay cooped up in a gym with other people, take it to the great outdoors. There is something majestic about exercising in the middle of the winter. While staying in shape, it's a great way to appreciate the sights and sounds of it. From trail running, hiking, kayaking, walking aroud a lake or on the beach, a host of outdoor activities await you. Of course, if you have any medical conditions or concerns about outdoor exercise, check with your doctor first.

Here are a few tips to help make the most of your time outdoors:

• Dress for the Cold. Layered clothing is essential when exercising in cold weather. The base layer should be a thin layer of synthetic material like polypropylene (such as Gore-Tex), which lets sweat evaporate away from your body. Next, wear a layer of fleece or similar material for insulation. The outer layer should be made of waterproof, wind-repellent, breathable fabric to let the heat out and keep the cold air from coming in. Since as much as 50 percent of heat loss comes from the head and neck, a hat and gloves are necessities. To warm the air before you breathe it, use a scarf or mask.

• Protect Your Skin. Winter weather brings cold, wind and humidity – all of which wreak havoc on your skin. The snow reflects the sun’s rays, making sunburn possible even in the winter months. A basic regimen of sunscreen, coconut oil and moisturizer can protect your skin from harsh conditions.

• Drink Fluids. When the air feels colder, you are less likely to realize you’re thirsty. The drying effect of cold air actually increases the risk of dehydration. So drink water before and after your workout, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

• Beware of Wind Chill. The wind chill factor can be a serious problem for outdoor-fitness buffs. Start your workout into the wind and finish with it behind you (when you’re sweaty) to avoid getting chilled. Fast motion such as running, cycling or skating can create wind chill because it increases the movement of air past your body.

How About Staying In?

Sometimes despite of all odds and the elements you might be willing to face outside, it might be a good idea to keep the exercising within four walls. If you are not a big fan of exercising outdoors, staying in has its benefits as well, try one of these indoor workout options:

• Walk the Mall. Although it takes some time getting to and from your local mall or shopping center, a few laps will get you moving while distracting you with shops and people-watching opportunities. Some malls even open their doors before operating hours solely for fitness walkers.

• Hit the Gym. Most health centers have dozens of weight machines, cardio equipment and fitness classes available to keep you motivated and energized to exercise throughout the winter. Choose a gym that is conveniently located and geared toward your fitness level. Most gyms provide a free initial consultation and session with a personal trainer to get you started, and some even offer special winter rates.

• Take a Dip. YMCA's, fitness centers and local community centers often have pools available to the public that are heated during colder months. Some even offer indoor pools!  Water workouts are easy on the bones, joints and connective tissues, have a low risk of injury and offer excellent full-body benefits.

• No Need to Leave Home. If the weather makes it virtually impossible to get outside on a regular basis, create your own home gym to stay active. Buying used equipment or only the basics, like an exercise ball, dumbbells and resistance bands or a jump rope, can make this option affordable.

Winter can be one of the most exhilarating times of the year, there’s no reason to hibernate indoors. It may be chilly and downright freezing at times, but your body still craves at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. Stay indoors if you have to, but if the conditions are decent and you dress appropriately, you still can walk, run, hike and play sports outside. Once you get going, you won’t even notice the cold.

Winter Running Tips

Revise Your Schedule
onsider running half of your planned runs during cold winter weather. The other half of your time can be spent cross-training with indoor biking, weights or exercise videos until the weather warms up.

Bring a Friend
Gather a group of friends to make your winter training more social. They’ll not only motivate you to keep running in the winter cold, but you’ll also have someone around to help if something goes wrong.

Dry Off Quickly
If your jog ends at home, change into dry clothes as soon as you finish. If your jog ends elsewhere, be sure to bring a pair of dry socks and shirt to change into until you can get back home, and bring a towel.

Remember, stay active, stay fit and most important have fun.


Dr. Phil Afghani is a Chiropractor and Clinic Director at Atlantic Chiropractic and Wellness Center in Port Orange, FL.  Our office serves the chiropractic and natural healthcare needs of the communities of Port Orange, South Daytona, Daytona Beach, Holly Hill, Ormond Beach, Ponce Inlet, New Smyrna, Oak Hill, Edgewater, Bunnell, and Palm Coast.

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