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Staying in shape in spite of the cold

February 28, 2019

Staying in shape in spite of the cold

Getting outdoors during the colder months can boost energy and enhance well-being.

Working out—especially outside—is actually the smartest way to maintain health during the colder months. Even 10 minutes of outdoor aerobic exercise boosts the endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin that improve mood and decrease the risk of seasonal affective disorder.

And, as a bonus, you can actually burn more calories working out in the cold because you have to keep warm as well. What outdoor winter activities should you try? Ice skating, running, hiking, walking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing all help to maintain muscle tone, balance, and overall health.

There are a few things to watch for with outdoor winter workouts, however. Hypothermia, or low body temperature, and frostbite are both risks. One early symptom of hypothermia is shivering, which can progress to slurred speech, decreased coordination, and confusion. Frostbite is injury caused by freezing, which causes loss of feeling and color of nose, ears, fingers, and toes. Dehydration is an issue far too many overlook during the winter. The key is to drink water before, during, and after exercise, because you might not sweat as much in the winter, but you are still evaporating water.

But above all, assuming that you’re healthy, anyone can put on a pair of shoes and walk. Three days a week or every other day is ideal. But even just 15 minutes is better than nothing. You don’t have to go out for 45 minutes. Just do whatever you have time for, even if it’s not much.