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The Brrrrrnefits of Winter Workouts That You May Have Overlooked

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While my last blog was about mindful eating especially during the holidays, it’s time for the other half of the equation: Exercising in cold weather.

Exercising has many benefits the most obvious of which is it burns calories and can help keep weight down. But exercise is so good for us on many different levels. It’s unfair to just look at working out as a way to lose weight. Here is a short list of some of the benefits:

 Spirits Bright— Exercise helps keep our moods up, which is so important on these cold, gray, short, winter days.

 Full House— Exercise gets us out of the house when our visiting extended family is driving us crazy. It gets us up and outside into the fresh air, when we are otherwise cooped up in a stuffy house, breathing everyone else’s germy air.

 The Back-up Plan— Exercise helps burn-off those cookie calories because even the most mindful eater among us likely succumbed (repeatedly) to the lure of those yummy holiday treats that seemed to be all around us.

But like I said, it’s cold, it’s dark, and no one is going to see us in a bathing suit for six more months so who cares, right? Wrong.

The winter workout is the key to keeping stress levels down and balance in order.

But what to do in this foul weather? I say do your usual but improvise a little. As a runner, that first cold run is always a doozy but it helps me remember that there is no bad weather just bad clothing.

It’s time to get out that dorky hat, those annoying gloves that make it harder to use my iPhone and those long running pants whose elastic isn’t working so well and threaten an ugly wardrobe malfunction.

Over the years of trail-by-fire, I have invested in winter weather gear like a headband to cover my ears, gloves with special iPhone-compatible fingers, even “yaktrax” to put over my shoes so I can run on ice and snow without slipping (kind of like chains for a trucker). This year, I think I’ll try running with a bandana over my face when it gets really cold so I look particularly fierce.

Layer-up, that’s the key. And don’t be afraid to modify your workout. If you normally run a bit longer but are worried about getting cold or it getting dark, go for quantity not quality. Maybe start a running streak where you run every day, even if it’s just a mile, but at least you get out and get moving regularly. Maybe it’s time to try some indoor workouts-that spin class you’ve looked in on but never tried. Maybe the treadmill seems too boring: try downloading some new music or maybe now is a good time to try “Zumba”!

Just remember exercise is great for your health and over all well-being, so don’t give it up. Layer up to go outside. Find some time, even if it’s not as much as you want, and go out and do it. You know you will feel better if you do!

 Guest blogger Joyce Gottesfeld, MD has been an Obstetrician/Gynecologist with Kaiser Permanente Colorado for the past 17 years. She’s a mother of three young daughters, ages 15, 12 and 8 and married to Marshall Gottesfeld, also an OBGYN in Denver. To read more of her blog check out http://bit.ly/DrJoyceBlog. Kaiser also recently introduced a new weekly podcast series of which Dr. Joyce is apart. They are are free and available through mobile devices and personal computers at Kaiser Permanente’s recently launched website, TotalHealthRadio, and will soon be available on podcast-distribution platforms such as iTunes and Stitcher.

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Comments
  • comment avatar KarenJ January 8, 2014

    I really like working out outside but hate being cold. My winter resolution is to get outside when the sun is shining, which is a lot in Colorado. And I always feel better after.

  • comment avatar Mara January 8, 2014

    Love my yaktrax. Wouldn’t be able to work out in the winter without them.

  • comment avatar Jessica Humrich January 8, 2014

    I LOVE Zumba. Tried it yesterday thinking Brodie would love the music. He wanted me to hold him the whole time because that’s how we dance. That’s another good reason to get to a class. Some gyms have daycares (Apex is great!) and sometimes strollers are a good way to still get that run when the little one wants to be with you.

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