Winter Workout

Sports Medicine: Benefits of Working Out in the Winter

Ward off those winter blues. During the winter months, colder weather brings on the winter blues. It’s not uncommon for those snowy or overcast skies to bring about some sort of stress, lack of energy, and gloom. Due to this, people have a tendency to lose motivation and start to become inactive, wanting to instead just lay inside and watch movies all day. However, doing so comes with its downfalls, such as sickness, fatigue, allergies, and seasonal depression, called SAD (seasonal affective disorder).

This tendency to be inactive during the cold winter months is a paramount problem, as days are shorter during the winter. Well, they seem shorter to the mind and body, anyways. This is due to limited sunlight (shorter daytime, longer night), leaving people little motivation to get up and do something active.

Those of us who have trouble becoming active, blame this lack of energy on the early darkness of winter, which leaves us feeling hopeless and disempowered to make a positive change. The unfortunate irony in all this, is that we find it most difficult to exercise during the winter when we actually need it most.  

So, are you tempted to hide under your covers, eat junk food, and hibernate when cold weather hits? It certainly seems like an amazing idea or a good excuse, but exercising in the cold actually has some cool advantages!

Moderate exercise gets the body to release hormones called endorphins, and endorphins make us happy. Exercise is extremely beneficial to our overall health, both mentally and physically. It provides a boost to our mood and health, helps manage stress, helps with cognitive thinking and memory, protects our immune system, and gives us energy. In other words, the benefits of exercise are limitless.

Besides the typical winter sports you might think of, such as downhill skiing or ice skating, there are plenty of healthy activities to draw you out into the winter wonderland. Going for a hike is healthy in any weather, so long as you have the proper attire and gear. Besides downhill skiing, there are activities such as cross-country skiing, and even snowshoe hiking, that are excellent activity options. 

Along with exercise, good nutrition and diet is crucial to also maintain your weight and good health. Just because it’s cold outside, doesn’t mean you need to bulk up on the carbs and fats. Stick with a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, protein, and whole grains. And a big tip – stay hydrated during outdoor winter activities. Since it’s not as hot, people tend to think they are not perspiring, and therefore do not need as much water. You always need to stay hydrated. To motivate yourself, visualize your goal and the finish line, your body will thank you for it in the long run.

To learn more about the benefits of exercise during the wintertime, call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence in Colorado Springs at (719) 623-1050 or request an appointment online.