Cold Weather Wellness

It’s cold!
And honestly, it’s not really cold yet.
But I’m not used to this. I’m used to Southern California, where a cold snap means dipping into the 50’s. And when it does, people in So Cal dress like they are about to scale Mt. Everest. Which is actually funny when folks from places with real winter ( like HERE!) who are visiting, are actually laying out, catching some rays, going to the beach, etc.

But it’s been 35 years.
I’m not used to this.

But this is going to be my reality until March. Or June. Depending on the extremely changeable weather here in beautiful Cincinnati. So I’d better strap on my big boy snow pants and deal with it.

Which brings me to my subject for the day, cold weather wellness. What am I ( and by extension, you, if you’re in a place with seasons) going to do to keep on keeping on, fitness-wise, during the season when animals with more sense, like say, bears, are hibernating in caves & stuff.

Solution #1 Stay indoors. Go to the gym or just do in home fitness. And actually that’s a fine option, but not for me. I need my outside time. I can’t spend the next 4-5 months running on a treadmill, like a hamster on a wheel. I need sun, I need fresh air, I need to not see the old dudes shaving naked in the locker room.
So, what should we know about working out in colder weather?

We have all known at least one person who has said that they can feel rain or the cold weather coming because of pain felt in their joints. There is a clinical term for these people. Hypochondriac.

However, can cold weather affect your body? As with all things, your body reacts to new stimuli differently. Not everyone is going to have a significant response to the cold that another person might have. What are some of these responses? Glad you asked.

Your Heart Has to Work Harder.
Whenever your body gets too hot or too cold, it adapts to the changing temperature. In the cold, your body’s natural response is to tighten the arteries and veins running throughout your body. Your heart has to work much harder to pump blood that your heart and body need. Not only do the arteries tighten, but the blood also gets thicker. The thicker your blood, the slower it circulates.So your heart has to work overtime to ensure that your body receives the blood it needs.

Muscles Tighten.
Heat is a natural muscle relaxer. It reduces the tension in your muscles, ligaments, and tendons and allows you to move more fluidly. The cold has the opposite effect.The cold causes your muscles to tighten up, which puts you at a greater risk of injuries. That is why it is so crucial to stretch before your workouts in the winter. Stretching warms up your body and activates the parts of your body that will be engaged during your workout. Hear that, runners? HEAR THAT RUNNERS!!!

Reduced Muscle Function.
As your body gets colder, the nerve impulses in your body also slow down. With these nerve impulses slowed, it takes longer for your brain to tell your body to move the way you want it. Manual dexterity declines.Tasks as simple as tying your shoes or zipping your jacket become hard in these instances.

You Burn More Calories.
Lest you think that I am focusing on the negative, here’s a bit of happy news. Your body tends to burn more calories in the cold than it does in the summer. A study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that exercising in the cold activated your body’s thermogenic genes, which causes your body to burn more calories.
Thermogenic genes. Yeah, I said it.

Your Body Will Fatigue Faster.
Because your body needs to work overtime in the winter to stay warm, you use more energy at a much faster rate, which causes your body to fatigue much faster. A study of Navy SEALS engaging in mountain warfare/cold weather training found that these individuals struggled to maintain their body’s energy demands in the cold climate. Make sure you replenish your fuel, especially before and after a workout.

Our Bodies Dehydrate Faster.
When the weather is cold, the air becomes dryer. Your body naturally loses moisture in the cold. That is why so many people have chapped lips and dry skin throughout the winter. The amount of water you lose during a workout is much higher in the cold. Plus, the cold affects our thirst sensations, diminishing thirst by as much as 40%,
That’s almost 2/5ths.
Just flexing my mathematics muscle….

…but I digress…

So, how to stay safe while achieving your cold weather goals?

Stay hydrated
Fuel up before and after a workout with plenty of carbohydrates
Wear layers
Warm-up before your workout
Stay inside in extreme temperatures
Listen to your body.

OK, that’s today’s message. Now I gotta leave my toasty warm coffee shop ( The Bowtie Cafe if you must know) and brave the 45 degree onslaught for the block and a half to my balmy apartment. If I don’t make it, know that I loved some of you.
Talk later,

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