Winter is here, time to train outside! | Westport Journal

December runners at Longshore Club Park – Photo by Julie Porter

Sponsored by Nuvance Health

David Lomnitz MD, Division Chief, Division of Cardiology, Nuvance Health

Living in southern Connecticut has many benefits, especially if you enjoy the outdoors. If you enjoy working out but can’t stand being indoors during the colder months, outdoor activities may be the answer you’ve been looking for.

During the first day of winter, the thought of going outside, going to the beach or walking on a trail may not be the first thought that comes to mind. However, you may be surprised by the positive physical and mental health benefits of incorporating cold weather outdoor activities or physical activity into your winter routine. According to the Library of Medicine, spending time in nature can have positive effects on mental health, and being near green spaces can help reduce stress and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Get out of the house and stay active

Winter life in southern Connecticut can grind to a halt. The days are short and the sun never shines overhead. The longer nights and angle of sunlight can make winter seem dark and dreary, especially if you spend a lot of time indoors. Staying indoors during the cold months can seem like a chore, but it’s a great way to beat the winter blues.

Exercises and activities that keep your body moving

Use your best judgment before engaging in any cold weather outdoor exercise or activity. Be sure to check the local weather forecast before you go. How cold is too cold? is a matter of perspective and everyone reacts differently to the temperatures in their environment. Make sure you are completely comfortable outside before starting your workout.

Learn more about preventive cardiology at Nuvance Health.

Adults should get at least two and a half hours moderate Cardio or 75 minutes intense exercise every weekand winter is no exception.

Jogging on Compo Road S - photo by Dave Matlow
Winter run on Soundview Drive – photo by Dave Matlow

Running or jogging in cold weather, it’s an easy way to work out outdoors, which includes cardio exercises. If you want to lose weight and get in shape, cold weather running can be one way to achieve your goals. A recent study shows a link between weight loss and frequent exposure to cold temperatures. Remember to wear layers and stay hydrated. If you run on the road, wear brightly colored clothing so drivers can see you easily.

Hiking in Devil's Den - photo by Julio Perez Fontan
Winter hike in Devil’s Den – photo by Julio Perez Fontan

Hiking is an all-time favorite among outdoor enthusiasts, and fortunately, southern Connecticut has plenty of trails. To get started, all you need is well-fitting hiking shoes or sneakers and warm clothes. Here is a link to the state parks and trails directory. Hiking is not only a cardio workout that helps strengthen the heart, but also a relaxing experience that relaxes your mind surrounded by nature.

Fat cycling is becoming a popular way to enjoy cycling in the snow while challenging yourself physically. Fat biking is a great way to burn calories and exercise outdoors in the winter, as it turns out to be both an adventure and a fitness experience. As the name suggests, fat bike tires are much wider than your typical mountain bike tire. The fat bike tire is bigger and stiffer so you can ride easily on the snowy trail.

Kayaking is more common in the winter than you might think, and it’s a great way to get some exercise. Connecticut has many state parks and beaches that are open year-round and offer access to flat water or Long Island Sound. Kayaking can be a calm and peaceful experience with opportunities to be out in nature and see wildlife. Paddling, like all paddling sports, helps build upper body and core strength.

Skiing is the gold standard for winter sports because it’s a full-body workout. Cross-country skiing is one of the most physically demanding winter sports because it does not involve the use of spa lifts.

Skating is a nice winter activity and also good exercise. Skating helps keep you physically active, and research shows that figure skating can sharpen motor skills, help your ability to take risks and overcome mental obstacles, develop courage and self-esteem. The Westport PALs track at Longshore is the gem of the season.

Paddle tennis Padel tennis, a fast-paced racket sport that is gaining worldwide popularity, could be your ideal winter solution. Paddle tennis is a fantastic cardio workout that raises your heart rate and builds endurance. The fast-paced nature of the game is a one-way ticket to improving your cardiovascular fitness while reducing your risk of heart problems.

Tips for safe outdoor activities

Taking precautions when working out or doing physical activity outside in the cold will ensure you have a great experience. Here are some tips to prepare for outdoor time:

Warm up before and after by stretching or walking in place.

To prevent hypothermia and frostbite, choose clothing suitable for the weather conditions and pay special attention to special needs such as rain gear, waterproof or waterproof material, snow pants, jackets, gloves, hat and scarf.

When the wind chill is -20 F, frostbite can occur in as little as 30 minutes. Limit time outdoors and take frequent breaks indoors during extreme cold and wind chill. Beware of snow and ice and wear appropriate shoes or boots to prevent slipping and falling.

Drink plenty of water when you’re outside. Hydration in cold weather is just as important as in hot weather. Drink water or sports drinks containing electrolytes before and after exercise, even if you are not thirsty.

Recognize the signs of hypothermia, such as chills, exhaustion or feeling very tired, confusion, fumbling, memory loss, slurred speech, and drowsiness.

Recognize the signs of frostbite, such as redness or pain, firm or waxy skin, and numbness. If you suspect frostbite or hypothermia, seek medical attention immediately and use these tips:

Take your temperature. If the temperature is below 95 F, seek medical attention immediately

Go to a warm area

Remove wet clothing

Keep warm with dry layers or blankets or clothes

Put the frostbitten skin in warm water

DO NOT put frostbitten skin in hot water

DO NOT use fireplaces or artificial heat sources to warm frostbite

DO NOT rub or press on the frostbite

Embrace these cold months and find ways to exercise outside. Have fun!

References

https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/State-Parks/Trail-and-Camping-Maps—CT-State-Parks-and-Forests

https://ctdeep.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html

https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf

https://health.gov/our-work/nutrition-physical-activity/physical-activity-guidelines

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-23267-9

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3895006/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3763332/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4763839/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6316702/

https://www.wpalrink.com/

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/exercise-and-physical-activity/five-tips-exercising-safely-during-cold-weather

https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/staysafe/hypothermia.html https://www.cdc.gov/orr/infographics/ast-frostbite.htm

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/exercise-and-physical-activity/safety-tips-exercising-outdoors-older-adults#cold

https://www.weather.gov/wrn/infographics_winter

https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/tips-for-cold-weather-training

https://www.weather.gov/dlh/extremecold

https://www.imba.com/fat-biking-best-practices

Dr. David Lomnitz is a board-certified cardiologist and chief of cardiology at Norwalk Hospital. He specializes in cardiovascular imaging to determine heart health. He strives to provide excellent cardiac care with the personal connection needed for a strong patient-doctor relationship. He is bilingual in Spanish. Learn more about Dr. Lomnitz and Nuvance Health Medical Practice Cardiology in Norwalk.


Note: Nuvance Health has sponsored this content for the Westport Journal. Nuvance Health is a system of not-for-profit hospitals, medical practices and outpatient services in the Hudson Valley and western Connecticut, including nearby Norwalk Hospital. Visit nuvancehealth.org More information.

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