In our previous blog Bariatric Diet; Healthy Alternatives for Managing Weight During the Holidays we discussed how the winter months are detrimental to our weight loss goals. We touched on maintaining our diet to avoid packing on a few extra pounds during the holiday season. Poor dieting is not the only culprit when it comes to weight gain this time of year though, we often forego our exercise routine as well.
We like to call it “couch potato syndrome”. For those who live in northern climates, couch potato syndrome can be especially tough. We get up and go to work in the dark and return home in the dark. The weather is cold and crummy and the last thing we want to do is squeeze a workout in. Cozying up and watching some Netflix sounds much better than exercising but we need to find the time because the impacts of stopping the routine can be significant. Physiologist J.P. Hyatt from Georgetown University explains that the impact of breaking your routine can start within just a few days and that your cardiopulmonary levels can decrease by 20% within just 3-8 weeks! Furthermore, exercise is known to decrease our risk of depression, which during the dark and dreary winter months, we have a higher risk of developing.
So what do we do? There are a few options to ensure we continue to exercise in the winter:
Prepare Properly for the Elements-
You may not like it, but there is no real danger to braving the elements as long as you prepare for them correctly. The body naturally responds to colder temperatures by constricting the blood vessels in the arms and legs which reduces the amount of blood being sent to your extremities in an effort to keep the bodies core warm (that is why our hands and feet go numb first). Wearing warm gloves, socks, and a beanie is an easy way to offset this discomfort. Wear breathable, full-length leggings and an athletic long sleeve shirt. These shouldn’t be too thick because when you start exercising your body rapidly gains body heat in the core areas and you will overheat if you overdress. Your muscles do tighten up when it is cold out so remember to warm up and stretch prior to exercising outdoors. If the climate you live in is either rainy or snowy, make sure your clothes are waterproof and that your athletic shoes have a solid grip. Lastly, if you are exercising in the dark, make sure your clothes are highly reflective.
In Home Exercises-
There are plenty of activities you can do in the comfort of your own home if you aren’t willing to brave the elements. The internet is a great resource for finding exercises you can do in your living room. My wife is a member of ClassPass, which in addition to providing great studios for yoga, bar, pilates, etc. they also offer excellent online exercise videos to do at home. YouTube also has tons of in-home workouts you can do. Check out this 30-minute pilates exercise https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywJe6ZJhyA0 or this yoga workout https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZsKcL05Rcg. Working out in your own home can be fun and very beneficial.
Join a Gym or Sign Up For Classes-
I find that stopping by my gym on the way home from work is a great way to keep my exercise routine going in the winter. I typically like to exercise outdoors but if I am not up to the task in the wintertime, the gym is a great place. It allows me to shift some of my focus from cardio and into more weight lifting for a more balanced routine. The gym is also motivating as you are surrounded by a community of people who are there doing the same thing you are, working on getting in shape. Finding a partner to exercise with at the gym is also a great motivator and fun too! Gyms often offer free classes as well.
I absolutely love classes. There is nothing more motivating than being in a class with a teacher pushing you to exercise to the best of your ability and being surrounded by others who are being pushed too. Like I mentioned before, ClassPass is a great tool. You pay a monthly fee and have the ability to go to all sorts of different classes and studios around your area, usually at a fraction of the cost of a standard class. I really enjoy going to a warm yoga studio when it is chilly out.
For patients of bariatric surgery or anyone who is looking to continue their weight loss journey, it is very important to continue exercising in the wintertime. Maintaining a workout routine, remembering to diet properly, and taking quality supplements such as Vita4Life’s Multivitamin, are essential year-round for weight loss success and a healthy body. Now get out there and exercise in the winter!
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