Winter is knocking heavily in some parts of the world, whereas in some parts, it has already set in. Millions of people are therefore faced with the dilemma of how to get exercise in Winter. This is a question many ask themselves every year. But it doesn’t get easier.
This year, 2020, the situation is compounded by the fact that many countries of the world have instituted nationwide lockdown or quarantine measures in an effort to curb the spread of Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic.
SO WHY NOT JUST FORGET ABOUT EXERCISE FOR NOW?
Well, some may be tempted to think that that’s the most logical route to take. Just stay at home, keep warm, many snacks and drinks throughout the day, and then pick up from there after the Winter in those countries where the lockdowns would have been lifted!
Nothing could be further from the truth. For someone who is already on a Sports or Exercise program, this would be VERY RISKY, much riskier than for someone who does not exercise!
Sport or any form of exercise, especially when done regularly, gives a person many physical, psychological and emotional benefits, by stimulating and strengthening many organs and organ systems. There is a pumping out of “happy hormones” called endorphins. When these healthy physical activities cease, even if it’s for a short time, this becomes a shock to the system.
Without exercise, the organs such as the heart (muscles) become deconditioned. Body Mass Index (BMI) increases, with most of the weight gain being from fat deposition. A feeling of unwellness is very likely to creep in, and negative metabolic processes begin in the body. So we need to find a way around the issue of how to exercise in the Winter.
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APART FROM (COMPETITIVE) SPORTS PEOPLE, ANY OTHER CATEGORIES OF PEOPLE WHO NEED TO BEWARE THE LAYOFF?
Everybody who is on regular exercise even of the slightest intensity, should be aware of the great harm that can be caused by stopping exercises. But also, for people who were intending to embark on an exercise program, the advent of Winter should not be used as an excuse for postponement.
It is true that it is never too late to begin exercise, but the sooner one commences, the better it is for their improved quality of health.
People who are using exercise as an adjunct to the management of their chronic illnesses, need special mention. They include, but are not limited to, people with obesity and the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other respiratory illnesses, and HIV & AIDS. The extra therapy provided by regular exercise cannot be taken away simply because of Winter and / or Lockdown measures.
Depression or Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) probably is a very important consideration in the context of both Winter and Lockdown conditions, or indeed any confinement. People who are already suffering from the condition, or those who have a predisposition to become depressed, may not cope well under these circumstances.
It is a well known fact that depression is more common in Winter because of the low temperatures and short days, and possibly the high prevalence of viruses. (This is called SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder.) Patients, their families and Healthcare Workers, need to be alert about this, and to help such patients to maintain a satisfactory amount of physical activity.
SO WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?
The physical activity guidelines which recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise, at least four days a week, apply to Winter as much as they do for Summer.
We should seek and share Winter exercise ideas. If the weather does not permit outdoor exercises, indoor exercises like aerobics can be utilised.
One should be innovative with the amount of space they have in their homes. Even swimming type of exercises can be done indoors, on the floor. Where there is a will, there is a way!
Even if we have access to good quality gyms within easy reach of our homes and / or workplaces, it is a great idea to have some training equipment in our private spaces (home or office). This equipment then becomes handy at times like these, when:
- the weather may be so bad as to not allow us to get to the gym,
- or when finances don’t allow us to keep up with our membership fees,
- or when the constraints are of time,
- and lastly when we are confined to the homestead as in quarantine.
An important note in this era of COVID-19: when exercising outside, please do not keep your face masks on, as this impairs your ability to take in enough oxygen to meet your organs’ needs at the high metabolic rate brought upon by exercise.
Hereinunder is provided some good quality, affordable and portable equipment from Amazon.com, that we should consider budgeting for.
Every person in general, but Sports and Exercise people in particular, should strive to maintain good physical activity through all seasons of the year. Winter is not a “contraindication” to exercise! As long as people can attend to wearing warm training gear, and adhering to handwashing to prevent (viral) infections, exercises can be safely undertaken in Winter.
From a Public Health perspective, and in the absence of COVID-19, it is actually people who stay in crowded indoor places who are more likely to get flus and colds, than those who maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes a regular dose of exercise in the fresh air.
But illnesses do befall people in Winters, illnesses that must be mentioned as they have a significant impact especially on Athletes. These are VIRAL INFECTIONS such as influenza, and Coronavirus infections like coryza (the common cold). These pose significant problems.
Firstly, once anybody gets a viral infection, they should suspend physical exertion because of the risk of Viral Myocarditis, a dangerous heart condition with a high mortality rate despite the best treatment.
Secondly, supportive treatment of these viral infections involves the use of poly-component medications, which may contain drugs that are not permitted in Sport.
Annual flu vaccination is strongly recommended, so as to ensure safe, ongoing exercise.
Vitamin C in the Winter months would be a good idea. It is best taken as a single evening dose with Dinner, as Vitamin C supports the metabolic functions of the body, which are maximal at night. For high quality Vitamin C from Amazon:
Athletes have to familiarise themselves with drugs that are not permitted in Sport, in-competition or out-of-competition. Declaring oneself as a Sports person is very important when visiting a Health Practitioner such as a Doctor or Pharmacist. But reading labels and package inserts, and consulting sources of information on drugs, should be second nature for Sports people.
Personal and Global Health wishes everyone going through Winter months or confinement to the home, an enjoyable, regular exercise routine.