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Jan. 31--Exercising in winter can be deceptive. Decisions regarding the regulation of metabolic rate and heat dissipation can be skewed because the body is already working hard to ward off the cold before the workout begins.
In a statement from the weight-loss support group TOPS Club, teacher, former body-building champion and physical fitness expert Amy Goldwater said skiing, skating, walking, snow shoeing and jogging can be beneficial and invigorating, but exercisers should consult with a doctor before starting a new fitness program.
Goldwater recommends the following tips for cold-weather exercising:
-- Layer clothing Exercise generates body heat, and although winter clothing seems to keep the cold out, it's really keeping the heat in.
"A good rule of thumb for cold-weather exercise is to dress for a day 20 degrees warmer," said Goldwater. "This allows for the heat generated by exercising. Wind makes a cold day feel colder, so knowing the wind chill factor can help exercisers plan what to wear on breezy days."
-- Protect head, fingers and toes Most body heat is lost through the head and neck. Hats, scarves and ski bands help. Fingers and toes are particularly vulnerable to weather. Wear thin gloves under heavier gloves; fingers warm each other inside mitten. Wear boots or exercise shoes a half-size larger wear synthetic liners and wool socks.
-- Warm up, cool down Although warm muscles burn fat and stretch better than cold muscles, they take longer to loosen in cold weather. Before a winter workout, stretch and warm up indoors.
-- Drink up Your body needs as much liquid in cold weather as it does under a hot sun. Sip water or a sports drink before exercising, and continue sipping during the workout and afterward. If you feel thirsty, you're already behind the curve. Avoid alcoholic beverages during exertion in cold weather.
"Alcohol dehydrates," said Goldwater, "and it's important to stay well hydrated since people lose water through perspiration and breathing, even in bitter weather."
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