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Walking in the Cold Winter Darkness

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Now that the days are turning darker earlier, and colder quicker, these are just additional excuses not to get out and walk or run. The cold, dark winter days bring with them the body’s urges to go into hibernation mode. While it’s easier just to wait until spring to be active again, there is no reason to stop just because the season’s conditions are less than ideal.

One reason many patients stop performing their daily outside walking or runs is because of how early the sun sets during winter. By the time many people get off work, its dark out. One way to encourage dark-time outdoor activities is to, “be seen.” Using reflective gear and a headlamp or flashlight allows you to be seen by traffic from great distances away. Having illuminating features makes it fun and safe to be out in the dark hours of the day getting your daily dose of exercise.

Another very common reason why many people give up walking or running in the winter is their inability to deal with cold conditions. Let’s face it, nobody likes having to go out into the frigid weather if they don’t have to. The good news is that exercise in colder conditions can cause the body to burn more calories. The human body exerts energy (burning calories) to stay warm in colder conditions. So even if one’s walks or runs are shorter distances, there could be a good chance that their body is burning a sufficient amount of calories to keep it warm in its colder surroundings.

Having a simple knowledge of how to properly layer clothing can help make winter exercise much more enjoyable. Everyone’s body is different so the type and amount of layers that you wear for a run or walk will vary. Protecting the extremities is key. It does not have to be below freezing for the body to react to colder conditions. It is often between 32 and 55 degrees farenheit where many people are negative affected by temperature. Gloves, socks, and a hat will help keep blood circulating to the appendages that tend to feel the cold first: the toes, fingers, hands, ears, and the head. Naturally as the body begins to get cold, blood will be drawn away from these mentioned extremities in order to keep the organs of the torso warm with blood. Different fabric long-johns or leggings (e.g. polypropylene, wools, cotton blends) will allow the thighs and groin area to remain warm; a very high heat area of the body. Keeping the torso warm with thermal undershirts and a light vest will ensure that the vital organs remain comfortable against wind and general coldness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This winter doesn’t have to be the end of those regular walks or runs that you enjoyed during the warmer months. Bundle right, get illuminated, and get out there onto the streets and trails.

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