Keep Moving Through The Cold Days Of Winter
With the colder weather upon us, it can be really tempting to just stay inside, on the couch with your favorite snacks and lots of Netflix series queued up. Unfortunately, that sort of cold weather malaise can have a real negative impact on your health, both in the short and long term. You may have even heard the phrase, “Sitting is the new smoking,” and a wide variety of studies have been done in recent years that show that “those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking.”
That’s the bad news. The good news that just 60 to 75 minutes of moderate activity each day can help counter the effects of being too sedentary. More good news: You don’t have to go outside to get the activity you need. Let’s take a look at some strategies for staying active even when it’s cold out.
The first thing anyone should do, both before exercising and when they wake up, is stretching. Stretching can help us jump start our muscles and ligaments, prepping the body for activity, but also keeping us limber. The benefits of stretching regularly are multiple, including greater range of movement in key joints, reduction of injury when working out, increased economy of movement in joints and muscles, and even an increase in performance in some cases.
So, what kind of stretching should you do? That might depend on your overall fitness level, but also the type of exercise you like to get regularly. For examples, runners might be more preferential to hamstring stretches, where as someone who’s focused on weight training might focus on stretching out their shoulders and wrists. Whatever type of stretching you do, be sure to consult with a professional first, to ensure you’re a) doing the right types of stretches, and b) you are doing them correctly.
Get Outside when You Can
Whether you’re a runner or other type of athlete, or just someone who likes to stay fit, it’s a good idea to take advantage of any sunlight that you can. Getting outside during sunlight hours can help elevate your mood, sleep better, and generally avoid the winter blues. Getting outside doesn’t mean you have to do your full outdoor workout routine, either. Commit to a manageable portion, but also look for other outdoors activities that might be good exercise, too, such as hiking.
Dehydration is often associated with hotter weather, where we might get fatigued earlier because we’re sweating more during workouts. However, dehydration can quickly sneak up on a person doing cold weather exercises; the colder air outside often helps to shield us from feeling too hot, which means we may forget to drink. It’s easy to stay hydrated—just drink sufficiently before and after your workout, and throughout the day, of course.
When we feel bound inside because of the weather, it’s easy to just stay in our cozy pajamas and not even try to get any exercise. Luckily, there are many exercises you can do at home, even in front of the TV. Get a yoga mat and do some stretches. Run in place. If you have the space, use a jump rope or hula hoop. Or, if you don’t want to stay home, go to the mall or similar indoor location and just walk around for 30 minutes or so. Whatever you enjoy doing, it’s important to get your heart rate up for a sustained period of time.
Need more ideas on staying active during colder months?
Schedule an appointment with one of our specialists and we’ll develop a personalized program that helps you achieve your fitness goals, in the fall, winter, or year round.
Please call Pain and Spine Specialists in Maryland at 301.703.8767, or 724-603-3560 in Pennsylvania to schedule a consultation or use the contact form on our website to send us a message.