Health and Fitness: Winter weather can be frightful, exercise can be delightful

Cold weather has arrived and is here to stay for at least the next few months. The days are getting shorter, leaves are falling to the ground and frost is appearing on windows first thing in the morning. In these cold months, the period of time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day is considered the holiday season, when people pass time by eating turkey, stuffing and pecan pies. It’s a common activity to sip on hot chocolate and pumpkin spice lattes or to munch on candy canes and peppermint bark. Some typical cold-weather activities include sitting by a fireplace or heating system, playing video games, watching movies or television and, of course, stalking people on various social media websites.

One activity that is sadly not associated with the winter months and the holiday season is exercise. Lazy winter activities may be why a lot of people are more likely to gain weight during this time period than during any other season.

Let’s be honest — the idea of actually doing physical exercise outside in freezing cold temperatures is a ridiculous idea to many. Most people would rather eat leftovers from Thanksgiving on their couch than even step outside to walk their dogs.

It is really not fair to let your body or your dog’s bladder suffer because of your own laziness. Exercising in the winter is just as important as exercising in the summer; think of all the extra food you eat because of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s. Just because an oversized sweater can hide your fat rolls doesn’t mean you can just give up your beach-body because it’s cold outside and all you want to do is lay in your bed under the covers.

A few good things to do in order to stay active outside during the cold months include snow football, mountain biking, skateboarding, skiing, snowboarding and sledding. If it’s snowing outside, make a snowman or an igloo. Go on a run or walk with a friend. Sprint from your dorm room to your car. All of these activities are great ways to stay active when it’s cold and snowy outside.

It is important to dress correctly for the weather. The number one way to avoid the cold while being outside is to layer. Put on a sweatshirt, sweatpants, earmuffs and gloves and go on a run. Ten minutes in, you will be sweating through your shirt.

Of course, you can always exercise indoors as well. Join a gym, go to the Student Recreation Center, do yoga in your living room or walk around a shopping mall. These are also effective ways to stay active.

Although exercising inside is beneficial, it is still important to breathe in some fresh air, so don’t forget to get a good dosage of oxygen once in awhile.

In Rocky IV, Rocky Balboa trained outdoors in the freezing cold, while his Soviet boxer opponent, Ivan Drago, trained indoors. If you have ever seen the ending to the movie, you’ll know that the person who worked out in the cold was tougher and came out ahead of the person who exercised in a gym on machines.

Is one way better than the other? In the case of Rocky IV, yes. However, something is better than nothing. Doing crunches on your living room floor during commercial breaks is better than sitting on your couch eating potato chips.

While you are getting your heart rate up, the only things other people will be raising are their cholesterol levels. Don’t be the person who has to buy new pants with Christmas money because your old pants can’t fit anymore or the person eating three slices of pecan pie. Be the person who smells of cold sweat, and who can still look good in a bathing suit even in 20-degree weather. Eat your pie and look good too; all you have to do is face the cold weather and exercise.

 

– Paige McAtee

Junior journalism major

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