Monday, January 7, 2013

Winter workouts

Nordic Skiing at Giants Ridge
I'm often surprised by how many people who simply don't want to go outside during the winter months.  Though I get cold very quickly when I'm standing still, the winter months provide some of the best conditions for a couple of my favorite sports; boot hockey and Nordic skiing.  I also continue to enjoy daily walks throughout the winter season.

I was delighted to read an article, Don't fear the winter workout, that confirmed the benefits of outdoor activity during the winter months. Following are five benefits of training outdoors throughout the winter, as noted by the editors of Women's Health magazine:

1.  You'll go for longer - thanks to a beautiful outdoor environment.
2.  You'll blast more calories - simply staying warm can cause you to burn 5 to 7 percent more calories.
3.  You'll save money - once  you've purchased some good winter clothing to go with your exercise equipment you no longer need to spend money on indoor facilities.
4.  You'll fight germs - Gyms are breading grounds for germs and bacteria. Indoor air is also two to five times more polluted than outdoor air.
5.  You'll think more clearly.  Being close to nature increases our well-being.  It has an immunizing effect by protecting us from future stresses and helping us concentrate and think more clearly.

It is also best to begin your workout into the wind and to wear layers of clothing.  If you become sweaty you can remove a layer or two.  Wet skin and cold are a bad mix.

Good clothing is of great importance.  It used to be merino wool was the only fabric that was effective at wicking away moisture from the body.  Now there is a lot of polypropylene base layer clothing made especially for outdoor activity.  In addition to a good hat and mittens, warm socks are essential.  As the Norwegians like to say, there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.  

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