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    Heating Up Your Workout in the Cold Outdoors

    By By Allison Ford
    January 23, 2012, 4:48:16 AM EST

    My personal feeling (and I believe I’m not alone) is that winter is for curling up with a mug of cocoa and a good book, not for donning a windbreaker and running for miles through snow and ice. Yet every winter, I see people not only voluntarily strapping on skis and snowshoes, but also doggedly continuing their usual outdoor workout routines by jogging or hiking in the cold, bundled up and seemingly oblivious to the inclement weather.


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    Being a person that you might describe as “indoorsy,” I pity these poor souls, who obviously didn’t get the memo that if God had wanted us to be outside in the winter, he wouldn’t have created hot toddies.

    It’s easy to assume that winter sports enthusiasts and outdoor exercisers can accomplish superhuman feats of thermogenesis, but in fact, the cold is mostly a psychological hurdle, not a physical one. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or just someone who wants to go for the occasional winter bike ride, knowing how cold affects the body can help you prepare to battle the blusters.

    The Heat Is Off Exercising is an especially good idea during wintertime because people so often feel heavy and sluggish during that season. Our bodies have evolved to respond to cold weather by becoming hungry; burning fuel creates heat, which warms us up. During the winter, some people also experience increased appetites because of the decreased amount of daylight, which prompts these individuals to eat starchy, carb-heavy foods that cause serotonin levels to spike and make them feel better temporarily. All of these circumstances conspire to make us pasty and pudgy in the winter, but regular exercise is all we need to counteract them. Getting moderate exercise not only keeps us thinner but also can keep us healthier by boosting our immune system. Studies have shown that people who get regular exercise in the winter experience 20 to 30 percent fewer colds than non-exercisers.

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