Sickness has definitely taken a toll on our family's health. In fact, mom and dad got to be sick at the SAME time with healthy, active kids over the weekend who wanted to go and do! YEP, it was awful.
After sending them back to school and a good nights rest (after many nights of not getting good sleep), hubby and I set out to go for a walk. It was important that we get outside, soak up the cold air to open our airways and debunk some cabin fever anxiety! It was also important that we wear our pajamas and bring our little dog so we wouldn't be tempted to do anything more than just walk.
While we still aren't 100%, it was nice to get out, breathe in the fresh, cold air that exists where I live, but not the rest of Utah during the inverted weather conditions and move our atrophied bodies.
I know, it's kinda weird to think about even going for a walk when you're not feeling well, but the truth is, YOUR BODY NEEDS IT! And the best part about it, we feel better than we did when we woke up. Sometimes the hardest cures for our health involve hard work, getting up, taking a shower, drinking enough water, eating good foods and moving (not taking a bootcamp or spin class), just a simple yoga or walking does a sick body good.
I came across this article in my studies today and thought I would share some interesting research and tips on how to get out in the winter and move your body, even when your body thinks that it would rather be sitting In the warm house on the couch binge watching Netflix until spring comes. And if you're really ambitious on a healthier feeling day, then you could see sights like this!
Strategies for Outdoor Wintertime Activity
Lance C. Dallek
In many regions across the United States, cold temperatures coupled with snow and ice can pose a number of significant challenges to outdoor activity and exercise during wintertime, especially for older adult and clinical populations. Indeed, wintertime environmental conditions place considerable stress on the cardiovascular, respiratory and thermoregulatory systems. For instance, heavy snowfall, cold temperatures and low atmospheric pressure during the winter months have been associated with increased adverse cardiac events (Janardhanan et al., 2010). Additionally, the presence of snow and ice on the ground throughout the winter months increases the risk of slips and falls. This article outlines strategies for helping your clients perform outdoor wintertime activities safely and effectively.
Respiratory System Responses to Activity in Cold Environments
Cold air is commonly dry, and endurance exercise results in a loss of water and heat from the lower respiratory tract (Sue-Chu, 2012). Air must be warmed to body temperature and brought to 100% relative humidity before entering the alveoli. This process, known as conditioning, is done by the respiratory tract, beginning with the nose and mouth. By the time air reaches the trachea it has been warmed to body temperature. This is important as it helps prevent declines in core body temperature. At the same time, air is moistened to 100% humidity before reaching the alveoli. This prevents the cell lining of the passageway from drying out. The burden of the lower respiratory tract to condition the air is much greater for winter outdoor activities when compared to summer outdoor activities (Sue-Chu, 2012). The colder and drier the atmospheric air, the harder the respiratory tract has to work to warm and humidify this air.
During exercise, as pulmonary ventilation increases, inhalation switches to the mouth (Sue-Chu, 2012). The repeated exposure to cold, dry air with winter outdoor exercise may cause airway injury and inflammation (Sue-Chu, 2012). The best way to limit this possibility is to take preventive measures. Here are two strategies.
Wear protective cold-weather face masks. Using a face mask or buff is an efficient way to reduce the deleterious effects the cold temperatures have on the respiratory system. These items aid in warming and moistening the air before it reaches the lungs.
Limit the duration and intensity of outdoor activities during frigid spells. The likelihood of airway damage can be minimized by reducing both the intensity and duration of outdoor activity when temperatures plunge below 10−20°F (−12.2 to −6.6°C).
Clothing Strategies for Minimizing Negative Physiological Responses to Cold Temperatures
Clothing is designed to protect the body from the environment. Protection can be achieved by the prevention of cooling and balance of appropriate temperature levels. During exercise in hot and cold extremes, a major concern is the dissipation of heat production from muscular activity (Gavin, 2003). The main role of fabric is to add a layer of insulation to impose a barrier for heat transfer and evaporation from the skin. As ambient temperatures decrease, more clothing is required to maintain core temperature (Gavin, 2003).
Ideal cold-weather clothing maintains the thermal balance of the user in extreme temperature conditions despite the level of activity. During exercise, this balance is difficult to obtain due to the fluctuation of heat produced by the body. Imbalances can possibly result in hypothermia, overheating and discomfort. Proper cold-weather clothing should reduce sweat accumulation during exercise, lower the probability of post-exercise chill and eliminate thermal discomfort (Bakkevig and Nielsen, 1995).
When selecting clothing for dry, cold conditions, urge your clients to choose fabrics that block air movement but allow water vapor to escape when sweating takes place. Cold-weather clothing commonly consists of multiple layers of insulation textiles and waterproof fabric for the outer shell. The under textiles are a complex combination of air and fibers, working to retain heat and transfer moisture when condensation exists on the skin at high levels.
In a study by Yoo and Kim (2012), the researchers examined the efficiency of different methods for layering cold-weather clothing by having eight male participants enter a cold chamber while wearing different garments; the men were seated for 10 minutes and then completed 20 minutes of treadmill exercise. The study focused on five different garments layered in two ways: all separate layers and a combined layer between the outer most insulation and the shell. The under layers for all the subjects included one sleeveless polyester knit undershirt, three long-sleeved polyester fleece shirts, and an outer waterproof breathable jacket for the shell. A physiological analysis revealed that combining an insulating garment with the outer shell enhances moisture transfer and diminishes the accumulation of condensation within the layer system, resulting in 33.8% less sweat production (Yoo and Kim, 2012).
Here are two key clothing strategies for outdoor exercise during the wintertime:
Implement a layering scheme that consists of a base layer, mid layer and outer layer. Merino wool is an excellent base layer, while fleece makes an outstanding mid layer. The outer layer should consist of a breathable wind- and waterproof shell combined with insulating clothing (made of fleece, down and/or synthetic insulation) that fits closely underneath the shell. Overall, this strategy permits winter enthusiasts to produce less sweat and stay drier due to lower amounts of condensation and vapor permeation.Consider wearing the following cold-protection garments when exercising outdoors: insulating pants, wool or synthetic socks, insulating wind-proof gloves, an insulating hat that covers the ears, and a face mask or buff.
Slip and Fall Prevention During Winter
It has been previously reported that winter slips and falls account for 300,000 serious injuries and 20,000 deaths a year in the United States (National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, 2013). These statistics underpin the importance of being prepared for outdoor activity during winter months.
The following strategies can help reduce the likelihood of your clients experiencing slips and falls:
Wear proper footwear. Footwear that provides better traction can minimize the chances of falling. Good options include rough, rubber slip-resistant soles or spike shoes (or straps with spikes that can be attached to regular shoes).
Slow down. When conditions are slippery, a slower pace will reduce the chances for slipping and/or falling.
Participate in balance training. A well-rounded fall-prevention program is beneficial for all individuals (for any time of the year), but especially for older adults who already are at increased risk for falls. Although research has yet to identify the optimal frequency, duration and type of balance training, balance exercises can be performed three days per week for 10–15 minutes each session. Balance training can also be integrated into various phases of the exercise session, including the warm-up, main component or the cool-down. Sample balance exercises and training progressions (from simple to complex) are presented below.
The most important thing that we all can do is listen to our bodies. When our body is telling us to rest it out, then listen. If our bodies tell us we need fresh air but our brains remind us that it's frigid outside, listen anyways and take these measures. Oftentimes most of our sicknesses in the winter are revolved around not eating healthy foods and staying cooped up in our warm houses and keeping those germs inside.
A simple walk 3 times a week in the winter time will decrease the winter blues, improve circulation and overall increase your desire and ability to stay healthy and strong all year long.