Walking (and working out) in a winter wonderland

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Exercise is a wonderful thing and provides many benefits. However, when the weather rangers from extremely cold or even colder, one may find themselves in a dilemma of how to work out in the winter. Well, this article will provide insight on the benefits of winter workouts, how to prepare for winter workouts and how to protect your body in winter workouts.

The benefits of winter workouts include:

1. Beats the winter blues – Exercise releases endorphines, which can make one happy and provide an energetic feeling. Exercise outdoors also increases vitamin D production, which may help you maintain your happy mood.

2. Boosts the immune system – Exercise increases red and white blood cell production and increases the oxygen brought to your cells, this aids in contributing to a healthy immune system.

3. Improves circulation – Exercise brings additional blood to joints and muscles, helping heal, improve flexibility and function.

4. Keeps muscles strong and healthy – Have you heard the saying “Use it or lose it”? The same is true for muscle strength. Winter exercise keeps your muscles in optimal condition and performance.

5. Maintains weight – In winter months your body may crave warm, comforting, calorie-dense foods. These cravings have evolved over thousands of years to help your body survive winter by building up fat storage. Exercise helps to burn the extra calories we naturally crave.

We mentioned exercising outdoors aids in production of Vitamin D, however one must keep in mind protective mechanisms to stay safe while exercising outside.

What to wear while outside:

1. Cover your head – Hats reduce the amount of body heat that escapes from your head, which will help maintain your body temperature. It is recommended that children should always wear a hat in cold weather.

2. Cover your mouth – Covering your mouth prevents chapped lips and helps keep you warm, but it also helps warm the air before you inhale, making it easier for your body to adjust to cold temperatures.

3. Dress in layers – Layers are key to adjusting to your temperature needs. A layer or two can be taken off or put back on throughout your time outside, helping you stay comfortable.

Protecting your body during winter months is important. Winter weather may increase stress on your body, which may lead to serious physical conditions including frostbite, hypothermia, falls, and heart attack caused by physical exertion.

1. Don’t overdo it – Exercise outside is strenuous on everybody, no matter your fitness level. The lungs and heart suffer the most from cold temperatures.

2. Mind the wind chill – Wind chill is the “felt” air temperature on exposed skin. Wind chill is always lower than the reported air temperature. It means that although the temperature may be 30 degrees Fahrenheit, it may feel like 15 degrees because of the wind.

3. Recognize the signs for frostbite

* Content from this article was derived from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Visit www.extension.purdue.edu/putnam or contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 653-8411 for more information regarding this week’s column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While many publications are free, some do have a fee.

Upcoming Events:

Jan. 15 – All county offices closed for MLK Day observance.

Jan. 16 – Preseason PARP, Fairgrounds, 1 pm, Cost $10 for credit, RSVP at http://tinyurl.com/yap82khl..

Jan. 18 – 4-H Council meeting, 7 p.m., Extension Office.

Jan. 19 – Why are Crop Budgets so Important? webinar, noon, RSVP at https://ag.purdue.edu/Extension/wia/Pages/webinars.aspx.

Jan. 29 – Annie’s Project starts, $75, Extension Office, 6 p.m.

Feb. 1 – New 4-H’er orientation, 6:30 p.m., York Automotive Building, Fairgrounds.

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