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Feature Articles
 Best of the Low Carb Blogs
 Resolutions You Can Keep
 Cooking Low Carb Part One
 Cooking Low Carb Part Two
 Hot & Quick: Breakfast
 Saccharin: The Sweet Truth
 New Year's Quotes
 Quashing the Weather Excuse
 Truth About Vitamin E
 Want to Lose the Fat?


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                 Quashing the Weather Excuse by Cerise Cauthron

With inclement weather, regardless of season, motivation for outdoor exercise diminishes. We are excited to get out and about walking, running, cycling, skating, rowing, etc. when the clime is picture-perfect. However, when the rain clouds form, the temperature drops, the heat index rises or a meteor strikes in the immediate vicinity, we throw up our hands and exclaim "I can't exercise in this!" The couch beckons and we mutate into potatoes.

However, with proper preparation in terms of clothing and gear, the weather situation need not disable your exercise efforts. While dangerous conditions should be avoided, more of the days of the year are available to use for fitness than one might first assume.

General Considerations:

  • For every season — hydration is key. Water is as important in winter as in summer. Stow water bottles at points along your route or carry water with you. Remember to drink before you feel thirsty — thirst means you are already dehydrated! If you tend to sweat a great deal, consider an electrolyte-replenishing beverage. Some people exude large amounts of precious salts in perspiration and this can disrupt the body's function. Present your arm to a household pet and if they lick you with abandon, you have salty sweat (you can also taste it yourself, but that's just odd.)

  • Sunscreen and sunglasses are critical year-round. UV light penetrates clouds and is present in every season. Cataracts, skin cancer and wrinkles are not considered exercise benefits.

  • Moisturizers protect skin in cold or dry weather and replenish moisture lost from the frequent showering/bathing that accompanies a robust activity schedule. Lip moisturizer should be used and should contain a sunscreen.

  • Good does not necessarily equal expensive. Quality clothing, shoes and merchandise can be had for a modest investment. That does not mean, however, that "cheap" is necessarily acceptable. Shop for the clothing, shoes and equipment that provide comfort and safety for your chosen fitness activity. For equipment and shoes, a specialty store is your best bet for variety and practical advice. For clothing, specialty stores will have the best quality, but relatively high prices. Acceptable clothing can be found at discount stores and, if you are admirably frugal, the Salvation Army or Goodwill.

Winter — For some areas, the cruelest time of year. Low temperatures, ice, snow and shortened days make scheduling a fitness regimen difficult. But, proper clothing and habits will keep you outdoors for all but the most hazardous of days.

To combat the shortening days, invest in reflective clothing or purchase a reflective vest. You can also buy reflective tape at hardware and discount stores and affix strips to any garment. You might also consider a battery-powered reflective device that emits a blinking light — these are more effective at attracting the attention of motorists. Better to resemble a road-crew worker than have an unexpected meeting with a minivan. If you cycle, run or walk trails, a headlamp can prevent an encounter with a gopher hole or ditch. You can also consider changing your exercise schedule. An outing during your lunch hour will keep you fit and provide the precious sunlight needed to battle the winter blahs.

Low temperatures call for skin coverage. Loss of heat through exposed skin should be minimized with a hat, earmuffs and gloves. Mittens provide the best hand protection against cold and layering of gloves with a wind/moisture-resistant outer shell is also very effective. A neck gaiter will protect not only the throat region, but can be pulled up over the lower face. Clothing should be layered and made of breathable material. A thin moisture-wicking inner layer, an insulating middle layer and a wind-stopping, weather-protecting outer layer generally suffice but for the lowest temperatures. Layering also ensures that you can strip down or suit up as the conditions change. Cold-temperature pants are available or a layering of tights and pants may be used to protect the lower body. Choose insulated socks, but check the fit with your shoes. Overly-thick socks can make shoes fit too tightly and lead to foot pain and/or injury. Wool socks provide the feature of warmth even when wet (sheep are rarely see wearing raincoats); some synthetic fibers lack this ability. For icy/snowy roads, you can purchase cleats or treads that fasten to your existing shoes and can be removed when not in use.

Precipitation should be met with breathable, water-resistant jackets and pants. A hat with a visor keeps the eyes free from rain and snow, as well as protecting the head. Wet shoes should be dried quickly upon returning inside, however, they should not be placed in the clothes dryer as this can damage the material and construction. Air-drying is the best method and there are even devices you can purchase to do this quickly and efficiently (they also work for boots, hats and gloves.) Remember to quickly divest yourself of wet, cold clothing when you return home. Cold, wet gear will rob your body of heat rapidly and, in extreme cases, lead to hypothermia. Also, invest in a hand cream containing the amino acid L–arginine. It stimulates peripheral circulation and will bring blood to your cold skin, warming it more quickly. There are several brands on the market designed for just this purpose. They can be used for whole-body warmth, as well. Your significant other will likely be very willing to assist in you in this portion of your exercise routine.

Summer — For some areas, summer brings the greatest challenges. Scorching temperatures and high humidity tempt us with air-conditioner worship rather than outdoor activity. Again, preparations are key to continuing your regimen.

Evaporation keeps you cool, so invest in moisture-wicking clothing. Loose-fitting garments are generally best as they permit air flow around the body and reduce chafing. Light colors reflect solar radiation and keep you cooler better than darker shades. Socks should be moisture-wicking and with a proper thickness to provide cushioning, while not retaining too much heat. There are also socks that are designed to reduce the incidence of blistering and are a good choice for warm-weather fitness. Hats protect the scalp and forehead from the sun's rays and a headband will diminish the drip of perspiration into your eyes. Sweat-blindness is not a legal defense for collision-based assault charges. Also, on the market now are neck/head wraps that can be soaked in water to maximize evaporative cooling from these important heat-releasing body regions. They are usually available with a wide variety of patterns to complement any exercise outfit — mine features monkeys wearing fezzes.

For hot-weather exercise, the cool-down portion of your routine is critical. Ceasing an intense workout does not immediately drop the body's metabolism back to rest. It takes awhile for the body to "shift gears" back to a more normal level. During this time, calories are still burned and heat still generated. Sustained, albeit reduced, activity allows for the continued release of this metabolic heat — cessation of activity reduces the heat-loss capability and internal temperatures can rise to dangerous levels. Heat stroke will not enhance your fitness motivation. It is also wise to consider exercising in the early morning and late afternoon/early evening when temperatures are lower.

For truly inclement conditions, in any season, indoor options exist. Most gyms offer day or week passes for short-term use. Your local YMCA or community center might have inexpensive programs in which you can participate. Invest in one or two pieces of exercise equipment for the home. Research the best type for your interests and level of fitness and, often, you can find equipment that will fall into your budget range. Consider, too, used equipment. Scan your newspaper's classified ads for leads. Many people buy good fitness machines on impulse, which quickly fall into disuse. People are often eager to get these space-robbing statues out of their houses and you can negotiate a good price for a little-used machine. Invest in exercise videos for aerobic or yoga/Pilates routines and inexpensive free-weights or resistance bands for strength training. A wind-trainer will transform a street bike into an indoor stationary cycle quickly and inexpensively. An energetic music CD can give a good aerobic workout for those who like to dance. My booty-shaking mechanism automatically engages when the Clash's "Rock the Casbah" hits the radio, providing a heart-rate boost and activity minutes that count towards to the day' accumulated fitness time. Nurture your inner child with jump ropes and hula-hoops. They are whimsical, fun and provide a good aerobic workout.

Although we would like for our outdoor fitness experiences to always occur under crystal-clear skies with mild temperatures, the Earth provides these days only on special occasions. With a little preparation and minimal investment, you can enjoy the benefits of exercise year-round to maintain your physical (and mental) health and happiness.

                                                          

Copyright © January 2006  Cerise Cauthron and Low Carb Luxury




       

 

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