VISITING ANGELS EAGLE, CO (970) 328-5526
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Keeping Fit During the Winter

Keeping Fit During the Winter

When people are depressed and anxious, exercise is not often high on the list of things to do. However, once you find the fortitude to help yourself and get out of your own way, you may discover that the psychological and physical benefits of exercising this winter are just what you need.

With the days getting shorter and people starting and ending their days in the dark, it’s the perfect recipe for seasonal depression and inactivity. For some people, winter may pose additional challenges like limiting the ability to exercise, socialize, drive, and attend medical appointments. While tempting, don’t let the shift to colder weather sway you to hibernating under a pile of blankets, binge-watching TV shows, eating poorly, and being inactive.

Maintaining a winter exercise program (indoor or outdoor) will not only assist in strengthening bones that helps prevent osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, but it also may help with maintaining balance, weight, and muscle mass. Done safely, and with health concerns such as asthma or heart problems kept in mind, exercising outside in the cold can do wonders for your health.



Cooler temperatures cause the body to work harder to stay warm. Research has shown that exercising in cold weather can transform white fat, which stores calories, into brown fat, which speeds up the metabolism and burns calories. This process is known as non-shivering thermogenesis.

Before exercising in the cold, do some warm-ups and stretching. Doing so will give your body ample time to adjust. Also, be aware that winter weather can cause blood vessels to narrow, which makes it harder for the heart to pump blood. This can stress the heart, so talk to your doctor before exerting yourself in cold conditions. 



Balance

People who become less active during the winter and choose to overlook the mechanical implications on the body will most likely encounter balance challenges. Balance relies on three integral sensory systems: visual (eyes), vestibular (inner ear) and somatosensory (feedback from joints in ankles, knees, spine and neck). When people are not challenging each of these systems, the systems become less fine-tuned.

Ever try balancing on one foot while looking ahead? Not always so hard, right? Although, ever notice that when you shut your eyes and try balancing on one foot, it becomes more challenging? This extra challenge is often due to somatosensory acuity. Sedentary lifestyles do not promote challenges to these three integral sensory systems and therefore many people experience wintertime falls.

In Eagle, Corina Lindley has developed a fabulous program for people over 65 that promotes muscle strength, increases bone mass, and cardiovascular training. Her training programs are designed to improve balance and stability along with reducing the incidence of falls. On Mondays and Wednesdays, she offers cycling and strength classes at Endorphin Gym. If interested, call her at 970-328-5770.



Other options for fine-tuning and managing balance concerns are yoga and Tai Chi, which are offered at the Mountain Recreation facilities and at various studios throughout the valley. Another option is the Brain and Balance program offered by Howard Head. This program is specifically designed to assist people who have balance concerns.

Mood

While there is mounting evidence supporting the benefits that exercise has on mood, many medical providers and psychologists don’t often suggest exercise as a tool for addressing mood and mental health.

Michael Otto, PhD, a professor of psychology at Boston University believes that, “Exercise is something that psychologists have been very slow to attend to.” Further, in an article from the American Psychological Association, Dr. Otto states, “The link between exercise and mood is pretty strong. Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect.”

In a review of multiple studies (1976-1995) from the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, by Robert R. Yeung, “The Acute Effects of Exercise on Mood State,” it was discovered that 85% of the studies found at least some degree of improved mood following exercise — despite a diversity of exercise modes.

Get out and move your body. You will be happy you did.

Muscle mass and bone density

It should come as no surprise that as we age, we encounter losses in skeletal muscle mass. Unfortunately, somewhere around the age of 30-35, the natural development of muscle mass often peaks. The news doesn’t get better — further decline in muscle power and performance frequently decline around the ages of 65-70.

In an article from the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers have found that resistance and impact exercise maximizes bone strength — particularly for those with osteoporosis. Further, the article also provides evidence of a “strong relationship between physical activity, exercise and bone health, with regular exercisers having a lower incidence of fracture.” 

The phrase “use it or lose it” becomes very literal as we age. Don’t let winter pose health challenges that impede you from enjoying the life you chose to live.

Serving Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Vail, Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch, Edwards, Avon, Frisco, Keystone, Breckenridge and Summit, CO

Visiting Angels EAGLE, CO
124 Capitol Street
Eagle, CO 81631
Phone: (970) 328-5526

Serving Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Vail, Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch, Edwards, Avon, Frisco, Keystone, Breckenridge and Summit, CO

Visiting Angels EAGLE, CO
124 Capitol Street
Eagle, CO 81631
Phone: (970) 328-5526
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