Friday, January 31, 2014

Staying Active During the Winter


The cold winter months can make the prospect of hibernating seem quite appealing. Hence, many people tend to become more sedentary during the winter. Cultivating health however, cannot be put on hold. Staying active is something that has to become a year-long habit.

A sedentary lifestyle carries with it many health risks including: chronic fatigue, worsening of pain symptoms, weight gain, increased blood pressure, poor regulation of blood sugar, and increased incidence of certain cancers.

Conversely, there are numerous benefits to regular exercise. If you are not active, establishing a regular exercise routine may seem daunting. It does not have to be though.  The following are some simple steps to follow when it is too cold to get outside:

leaf.jpg  Go to your local mall and walk for a least twenty minutes three times a week.
leaf.jpg  Avoid sitting too long.  At commercials or at least once or twice an hour get up and get yourself a glass a water, or just take a few minutes to walk around your room.
leaf.jpg  Stretch on a daily basis.  Do arm circles, leg circles and bend to each side.
leaf.jpg  Shake. Shaking your body is a good way to get things moving. Whenever you have been sedentary for a long period of time (1 hour or more) it is good to give the hands, arms and legs a shake before moving.
leaf.jpg  The most important thing is to find opportunities to walk on a daily basis.

Walking 

Walking is a low impact activity that conveys numerous health benefits.

leaf.jpg Boosts energy levels - by increasing circulation walking improves oxygenation of cells throughout your body.
leaf.jpg Improves mood - by releasing endorphins exercise helps alleviate anxiety and stave off depression (particularly important in winter months when people's moods can be dampened due to lack of sun exposure).
leaf.jpg Preserves cognitive function - regular activity is associated with lower incidence of dementia in the elderly population.
leaf.jpg Strengthens bones - any form of weight bearing exercises (walking included) helps to strengthen bones, thereby preventing fractures and the development of osteoporosis.
leaf.jpg Ensures long-term joint mobility - If joints are not used on a regular basis they tend to become stiffer and the result is decreased range of motion or arthritis.
leaf.jpg Increases lymphatic circulation - unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system does not have a pump like the heart. Instead, the lymphatic system relies on contraction of the muscles to pump the lymph

There are many health benefits to be gained from establishing a simple daily routine of movement.  If you are limited by your ability to move due to pain or other health concerns talk to one of our naturopathic doctors for advice.