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Beat the Winter Blues!

Dr. Eleanor Host here, your dedicated family physician, eager to share insights into the positive aspects of engaging in outdoor exercise during the winter season. Now that the holidays and fun are over, we enter into the dark gloominess of winter.

One way to combat that is to make sure you’re getting outdoors no matter the weather. Of course, we are experiencing the El Niño weather pattern this winter, potentially bringing milder temperatures. Why is it good to get outside?

1. Invigorating Fresh Air: Despite the crisp winter air, outdoor exercise offers a refreshing experience that can significantly elevate your mood. Engaging in physical activities outdoors triggers the release of endorphins, those delightful neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of joy and contentment. Just dress yourself with appropriate winter gear for the wind and temperatures and venture outside for a natural mood boost!

2. Vitamin D Enrichment: The winter season often brings shorter days and reduced sunlight, potentially impacting vitamin D levels. Participating in outdoor activities, even on cloudy days, provides an opportunity to absorb essential vitamin D. This vital nutrient plays a superhero role in supporting bone health and bolstering the immune system. Just 15-20 minutes of outdoor activity can work wonders for your vitamin D levels. You might still also benefit from taking 800 to 1000 units a day of vitamin D3.

3. Winter Wonderland Fitness: (if we actually get any snow ) Transforming snow-

covered landscapes into a magical winter wonderland, the season presents unique opportunities for enjoyable workouts. Consider activities like sledding, building snowmen, hiking at the metroparks, ice skating, or skiing. Not only are these endeavors entertaining, but they also contribute to cardiovascular health and calorie burning.

4. El Niño's Mild Touch: This winter, the El Niño weather pattern graces us with its presence, ushering in milder temperatures. Embrace this as an invitation to step outside comfortably for your exercise routine. Nature seems to be signaling, "Take advantage of this pleasant weather and prioritize your well-being!"

5. Prioritize Safety in the Cold: Before embarking on your winter exercise adventure, ensure you are properly attired. Layer your clothing to maintain warmth and don't forget a hat and gloves. Use a polypropylene base layer, a warm layer of wool/cotton/fleece, and then an outer shell windbreaker. Be cautious of icy patches, and choose shoes with good traction to prevent slips. You can also use traction devices to put on your shoes, which work great.

In conclusion, winter offers an ideal opportunity to diversify your exercise routine and

relish the great outdoors. Whether you opt for a brisk walk or engage in snow-related

activities, both your body and mind will thank you. Stay warm, stay active, and savor the

invigorating embrace of winter! I am outdoors all year round, feel free to ask for any

other tips for outside activities.


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