A Good Day For A Hike

snowshoe 7 springs 2014

It has been a long, cold winter. Winter is almost ending, but we still have more cold left.

It can be very hard to find the motivation to exercise, be active and to get outside during the short, dark, cold days of winter.

Winter can be the hardest time to be consistent with exercise and activity. The short dark days can be depressing, causing seasonal mood disorder. People avoid going outside due to the short days, cold, snow and ice.

When exercise decreases, it becomes harder to eat right. This can create a negative feedback cycle. The less you move, the worse you eat. This leads to more pain and lethargy. And this leads to less activity and less exercise. This cycle becomes self perpetuating and can side track you from exercising for months. It can be hard to get back into the pattern and rhythm of taking care of exercising, eating right and being healthy.

That is why I feel it is so important to keep yourself moving, active and exercising throughout the cold winter months. Many people get depressed from the lack of sunlight, lack of fresh air, and lack of activity that characterizes the cold winter months. I have seen firsthand how this seasonal depression can be avoided through mild to moderate exercise.

With the technology of the clothes that are being made these days, it is very possible to stay warm and comfortable while walking and exercising outside throughout the winter.

I ride my bike throughout the winter. I just alter how I ride in the winter versus the summer. I put together a bike with disc brakes, fenders and metal studded tires so that I can be comfortable and confident while commuting to work on my bike in the snow, slush and ice. Even when it is 20 degrees out, if I ride my bike to work, I always arrive with a smile on my face. My personal limit with regard to the cold is 5 degrees. If it is colder than 5 degrees outside, then I won’t ride my bike. Otherwise I can be quite comfortable and happy riding my bike in the cold and snow.

The more you can get outside throughout the winter, the better you will feel and the less weight you will gain throughout the winter months.  Even if you don’t get outside, if you can keep yourself active throughout the winter, you will be much happier overall. This is a great way to avoid and treat the depression that affects so many of us throughout the cold winter months. It is also a good way to get rid of the extra weight many of us gain during the holidays.

My family and I are fortunate enough to go on skiing trips every year after the holidays. It is such a great way to stay active and get rid of the extra calories that we inevitably took in throughout the holidays.

Here in Pittsburgh it has been a long, cold, snowy winter. We have had many days of negative degree weather and more than double the amount of snow we usually get. All of the kids love it because they are getting an unprecedented amount of school closings and delays. All of the parents dread it because they have to scramble to find coverage for their kids for the school delays and closings.

The winter is dragging on at this point (it is the beginning of March) leaving us all looking forward to the upcoming spring and warmer weather. That is why my wife and I decided it would be a good weekend for us to get outside and go for a snowshoe hike.

We dropped the kids off with my in-laws early Sunday morning and drove up to the mountains. We had great weather, it was snowy and 25 degrees. While we hiked we got another few inches of snow. My wife and I went for 4 hours and did about 8 to 10 miles of snowshoeing.

What a great feeling afterwards! We were tired and hungry. We went home and ate well-earned Thai food and waited for the kids to come home.

Today my hips feel tight and I am tired. But it is a good tired and a good soreness. This morning my wife and I woke up feeling good and in a great mood. Today I will do yoga and take it easy which will help facilitate my recovery.

There are beautiful days in the winter just like there are beautiful days in the summer. One of the nice things about snowshoeing is that you don’t get cold. You usually get too warm. It is such a nice feeling to be in 25 degree weather and to be sweating and hot.

Getting outside and being active like that has a profound effect on our body and our mind. Being exposed to vitamin D from the sunlight helps our bodies to process calcium better. Being exposed to sunlight also helps to prevent, and decrease the effects of, depression.

Breathing in the fresh mountain air allows us to clear some of the toxins out of our lungs. Years ago, it was common for those who could afford it to spend time in the mountains because they believed the fresh air had healing properties.

My uncle Mort, who lived to be 95, and fly fished in streams in the mountains until he died, believed that the fresh mountain air was healing. He felt that it was part of what kept him healthy and active late in life.

It is too easy to stay indoors and hibernate throughout the cold winter months. This creates a negative feedback cycle that can be very hard to break come springtime. It is easiest on your body to stay consistently active throughout the winter. It is the healthiest for you, and the best way to prevent gaining weight. Most people on average gain 1 to 2 pounds a year. Over time this adds up. Prevent the weight from accumulating any more. Keep yourself moving and active throughout the winter.

The Pain Free Lifestyle program takes the guess work out of working out and exercise. It is easy to follow and easy to stick with. Be easy on yourself. It is the Pain Free Way.

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