December 7, 2011
Does the cold, snowy weather make you want to stay indoors? Taking your exercise outdoors may help you lose weight and chase away the winter blues. One study found that we take about 2300 fewer steps per day in the winter than in the summer, marking a 30 percent reduction in physical activity. With all the extra parties and holiday treats around, now is an excellent time to get outside and get moving.
Cold-weather workouts activate the body’s stores of metabolically active brown fat (helps regulate body temperature) and increases our fat burning. Exercising outdoors in the natural light also boosts the brain’s production of serotonin to keep the seasonal blues away. Enjoy these winter workouts safely by remembering a few things.
1. Layering - always start with a wicking layer closest to your skin to move moisture away from the body. Dressing in layers leaves you the option to remove one to cool down after you’ve begun exercising.
2. Know your surrounding and your limits - avoid icy areas to prevent slips and falls and stay in a location that you can find refuge if the weather changes suddenly. Wearing anti-slip tracks on your shoes can add safety and security in your footing to maintain a normal gait. Walking poles are a good choice too for hikes in the snow and ice.
3. Hydration- the cold weakens the body’s thirst mechanism, so remember to drink before you are thirsty. Drink 12-16 ounces of water before you head out and take a water bottle with if you’re going to be out longer than 1 hour.
4. Sunscreen - don’t forget to apply before heading out and reapply after an hour. The reflection of the snow and ice increases the sun’s intensity. Sunglasses are important too - protect your eyes and the sensitive skin around them.