People out skiing and walking trails on a snowy day

For a Healthy Heart, Keep Hibernation at Bay

Posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 by UVM Health Network - CVMC

Being active in the winter can often feel like a bear, but there are actually some great, heart healthy benefits waiting to be unlocked. There are great advantages that come with a cold weather workout: no heat or humidity to slow you down, exposure to sunlight for some very important vitamin D, and immunity-boosting against seasonal coughs and colds. Leave hibernation to the bears and take a peek at our tips and tricks to stay active this winter.

Wear comfortable exercise clothing in the winter. Properly fitting sneakers and comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing make the first step much easier. Layering clothing in the winter is great for protecting yourself from the cold winds. Make sure to remove layers as you begin to sweat, to avoid drawing heat out of your body and letting cold air in. Also consider the types of fabrics you’re layering. Avoid cotton when dressing for your winter workout because of its absorbency. Instead, try layering with wool or fleece to keep warm and keep a thin layer of synthetic material (like polypropylene) as your first layer.

Go for a walk! Once you have geared up with proper exercise clothing, head outside for a walk. If you get bored walking in your area, take a look at this website, which is a great resource full of walking trails around Vermont. It offers up information about location, trail length, trail surface, and even what other kind of activity you might encounter while walking. And remember, walking at your local mall is also a great way to stay active if you don't feel safe walking in winter conditions.

Lace up your skates. Skating is a great workout to do with friends and family. Free skate is available in arenas all over Vermont. The Vermont Chamber of Commerce offers up a great resource for finding more locations that offer indoor free skate. Visit this website for more information.

Make shoveling snow a part of your weekly routine. Removing snow can be a great workout; however it’s important to be aware of the possibility of triggering a heart attack while shoveling. Here are some important safety tips to keep in mind while shoveling snow:

  • Stretch out ahead of time, a few minutes of this may keep the soreness at bay and make for an enjoyable experience.
  • Drink plenty of water. Consider this a gym workout and make sure you are drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated.
  • Push the snow instead of lifting it. If you’re really looking for an arm workout; try to lift smaller amounts of snow instead of loading down your shovel.
  • Lift with your legs, not your back. We’ve all heard this phrase, but it makes a lot of difference in how your knees and back feel after the driveway is cleared.
  • Most importantly, if you feel like you might be having a heart attack, seek medical attention.

Get active with your pets. You’re not the only one who feels cooped up in the winter months. Bring your pup with you on your walks or hikes around town.

Bring your workout inside. Find active opportunities wherever you can. It’s as simple as taking a walk through the mall, dance parties with your kids or even doing your weekly chores.

Staying active in the winter is important for keeping your heart healthy. Celebrate Heart Health Month with us by engaging in some of these activities!

These tips and more can also be found on the American Heart Association’s website

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