Winter is here, time to exercise outside! , Westport Journal

December Runners at Longshore Club Park – Photo Julie Porter

Sponsored by Nuvance Health

By David Lomnitz MD, Section Chief, Division of Cardiology, Nuvance Health

There are many advantages to living in southern Connecticut, especially if you enjoy exercising outdoors. If you love working out, but can’t afford to be cooped up inside during the cold months, the great outdoors may be the answer you’re looking for.

With the first day of winter approaching, the idea of ​​exercising outside, going to the beach, or taking a walk on a trail may not be the first thought that comes to your mind. However, you may be surprised by the positive physical and mental health benefits of incorporating outdoor cold weather exercise or physical activity into your winter routine. According to the National Library of Medicine, spending time in nature can have a positive effect on your mental health and being close to green areas can help reduce stress and symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Get out of the house and be active

Winter life in southern Connecticut can be stagnant. The days are short and the sun is never overhead. Long nights and the angle of sunlight can make winter dark and dreary, especially if you spend a lot of time indoors. Getting out of the house during the colder months can feel like a task in itself, but it’s a great way to escape the winter blues.

Exercises and Activities to Keep Your Body Moving

Use your best judgment before attempting any outdoor exercise or activity in cold weather. Be sure to check your local forecast before heading out. How cold is too cold? It’s a matter of perspective and everyone reacts differently to the temperatures in their environment. Make sure you are completely comfortable being outside before you start your exercise.

Learn more about preventive cardiology at Nuvance Health.

Adults should get at least two and a half hours medium cardio or 75 minutes intense physical activity every weekAnd winter is no exception.

Jogging on Compo Road S. - Photo Dave Matlow
Winter jogging on Soundview Drive – Photo Dave Matlow

running or jogging An easy way to get some outdoor winter exercise during the cold weather is to incorporate cardio. If you want to lose weight and get fit, running in cold weather can be one way to reach your goal. A recent study shows that there is a link between weight loss and repeated exposure to cold temperatures. Remember to wear layers and stay hydrated. If you are running on the road, wear bright colored clothes so that drivers can see you easily.

Hiking in Devil's Den - Photo Julio Pérez Fontan
Winter hiking in Devil’s Den – Photo Julio Pérez Fontan

hiking It’s an all-time favorite among outdoor enthusiasts and luckily, there are plenty of trails in Southern Connecticut. All you need to get started is some well-fitting hiking shoes or sneakers and some warm clothing. Here’s a link to the state directory of parks and trails. Hiking is not only a cardio workout that helps strengthen the heart, but is also a relaxing experience to calm your mind while being surrounded by nature.

fat biking Snow cycling is becoming a popular way to have fun while challenging yourself physically. Fat biking is a great way to burn calories while exercising outside during the winter as it proves to be both an adventure and a fitness experience. As the name suggests, fat bike tires are wider than your typical mountain bike tire. Fat bike tires are bigger and tougher so that you can move easily on icy roads.

Kayaking This is more common than you might think during the winter, and it’s a great way to get exercise. Connecticut is home to several state parks and beaches that are open year-round and provide access to flat water or Long Island Sound. Kayaking can be a peaceful and tranquil experience with opportunities to be in nature and observe wildlife. Kayaking, like all paddle sports, helps build upper body and core muscle strength.

skiing This is the gold standard of winter activities because it is a full-body workout. Cross-country skiing is one of the most physically demanding winter activities because it does not involve the use of lifts like at resorts.

ice skating This is an enjoyable winter activity and great exercise. Ice skating helps keep you physically active, and studies show that figure skating can sharpen motor skills, help your ability to take risks and overcome mental obstacles, build courage and self-confidence. -Can develop respect. The Westport Pals Rink in Longshore is a seasonal gem.

paddle tennis Paddle tennis, a fast-paced racquet sport that is gaining global popularity, could be the ideal winter solution for you. Paddle tennis is a great cardio workout that gets your heart rate up and improves stamina. The fast pace of play is a one-way ticket to improving your cardiovascular fitness while reducing your risk of cardiovascular problems.

Tips for exercising outside safely

Taking precautions when exercising or doing outdoor physical activities in the cold will ensure that you have a good experience. Here are some tips on how to prepare for your time outside:

Warm up before and after by stretching or walking in place.

To prevent hypothermia and frostbite, choose appropriate clothing for the elements and pay close attention to specific requirements such as rain gear, waterproof or water-resistant materials, snow pants, jackets, gloves, hats and scarves.

When the wind chill is -20F, frostbite can occur in just 30 minutes. Limit time outside during extreme cold and wind chill and take frequent breaks indoors. Be careful of snow and ice and wear appropriate shoes or boots to avoid slipping and falling.

Drink plenty of water while going out. Staying hydrated in cold weather is just as important as it is in hot weather. Drink water or sports drinks containing electrolytes before and after your workout, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

Recognize the symptoms of hypothermia such as shivering, feeling exhausted or extremely tired, confusion, shaky hands, memory loss, slurred speech, and drowsiness.

Recognize the symptoms of frostbite such as redness or pain, skin feeling hard or waxy, and numbness. If you suspect you may have frostbite or hypothermia, seek medical help immediately and use these tips:

Be sure to take your temperature. If below 95F, seek medical care immediately

Must go to a warm area

Be sure to remove wet clothes

Warm up with dry layers or blankets or clothing

Keep the skin affected by frostbite in warm water.

Do not keep skin affected by frostbite in hot water

Do not use fireplaces or artificial heat sources to warm frostbite.

Do not rub or apply pressure to frostbitten areas

Enjoy these cooler weather months and find ways to exercise outside. have fun!


Dr. David Lomnitz is a board-certified cardiologist and Section Chief of Cardiology at Norwalk Hospital. He specializes in cardiovascular imaging to determine heart health. Their goal is to provide excellent cardiovascular care with the personal connection essential to a strong patient-physician relationship. He is bilingual in Spanish. Learn more about Dr. Lomnitz and Nuvance Health Medical Practice Cardiology in Norwalk.

Note: Nuvance Health has sponsored this content for the Westport Journal. Nuvance Health is a system of not-for-profit hospitals, medical practices and outpatient health services throughout the Hudson Valley and western Connecticut, including nearby Norwalk Hospital. visit for more information.

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