Don't let winter blues curb exercise and fitness goals

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:18

    MANHATTAN, KS —It's cold and blustery out, and all you want to do is curl up in a warm blanket, watch a good movie and worry about exercise when warm weather comes back around. Staying in shape during the cold winter months is tough, but a Kansas State University fitness educator says keeping fit all year long is possible and very rewarding, both physically and psychologically. David Poole, a professor of kinesiology and anatomy and physiology, says just three 10-minute bouts of exercise a day can increase metabolism and improve mood, overall fitness, and health. "Studies in the past encouraged exercising for at least 30 minutes to increase caloric expenditure, burn fat, and improve cardiovascular fitness, but recent studies have found breaking up the 30 minutes of continuous exercise into three 10-minute bouts have equal improvements in fitness and metabolism," Poole said. Poole said exercising for 10 minutes at a time allows for outdoor walks or other forms of exercise without being in the cold for long periods of time. For exercising outdoors, he suggests drinking plenty of water and wearing appropriate running gear — clothing that keeps heat in and allows moisture to get out and away from the body. To avoid the cold weather, there are many indoor ways to exercise such as listening to music and dancing, following along with videotapes and exercising at recreation centers. Following a fitness routine with a friend is also a good way to stay committed to exercising, Poole said. "The holidays often get people thinking about their fitness and weight because they worry about the snacks and foods they consume," he said. "People may diet during the holiday season instead of exercising daily, which actually decreases their metabolism. The body switches to starvation mode and then when you do actually eat, the calories are preserved as fat. "I would suggest exercising in two to three small bouts a day or 20 small bouts a week, with five or six of these focused on strength and the rest on cardiovascular. By following this routine, you can stay fit and avoid crash dieting and dreading the longer 30-minute workouts." Source: Kansas State University, a comprehensive research, land-grant institution. Tips for cold weather exercising People often feel the winter months are an excuse not to workout. The following are the top five excuses for not exercising in cold weather and why they don't hold water, according to the American Medical Athletic Association. I'll freeze my lungs. As freezing air makes its way through the body and down to the lungs, the body warms it up. There is no scientific evidence to show that a person can freeze their lungs. However, it can be more comfortable to exercise in the cold if nose and mouth are covered with a scarf. I can't keep warm. Keeping warm is a lot easier than you might think. Just follow the three-layer principle: wear an inner layer of wool, silk or a synthetic fabric to wick away sweat; an insulating layer of wool or a synthetic fabric to keep the body warm; and an outer layer to provide protection from wind and rain. Most sporting goods stores have a wide selection of outdoor exercise clothing. It's not safe. Cold-weather exercise can be safe if planned ahead. Exercise during the day. The light will help you see icy or hazardous areas while the sun will keep you warmer. If you must exercise when it's dark, avoid high-volume traffic areas and wear bright clothing and reflective strips. I can't get a decent workout. Many athletes think because they sweat less in the cold, they're not getting as good a workout. This is not true. In fact, it takes a little more energy to exercise in cold weather than it does in warm weather. Winter is a good time to build a running base; work on steady-state training, or try a new sport such as cross-country skiing. It's a hassle. Set running clothes aside so they are easy to find and put on. Run your usual routine with a warm-up, training run, and a cool down. Then return indoors to stretch. When the temperature drops, set excuses aside and enjoy the pleasures of winter exercise. For more information on cold-weather exercise, go to online.