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  • Winter Workout Precautions

    Well, not quite winter yet, but high of 57° today tells me it's not too far away. So I think the time is appropriate to go over a few precautions about workouts in the winter.

    Now if you are working out in a gym or other dedicated exercise facility, make sure you take full advantage of the resources, especially for your cool down. Most facilities have an indoor lap track and it usually has at least two lanes. If you are running for your aerobic portion, use the slow lane for the cool down, usually one cool down lap for every 5 running laps. This gives your heart and lungs the time they need to return gradually to their normal pace without that “sudden stop” for folks who don't cool down.

    If you work out at home, remember you still need that cool down, although stepping out into -60° weather is clearly not the answer when you are already hot and perspiring. Alternatives are a) walk in a circle around the area until your heart rate is back to normal, or b) stay on your treadmill, Gazelle, or elliptical device and reduce your speed to a normal walking pace. I'm not much for walking in circles, so I go with b.

    If you are usually exercising at the “marching” pace I talked about in an earlier entry, it's time to step down to half that pace. Slowly reduce your speed until you feel your heartbeat slowing and your breathing return to normal. An easy way to accomplish this is to breathe in and out to a count and gradually take longer to complete it.

    Inhale...1..2..3..4..Exhale..1..2..3..4..Inhale.....1.....2.....3....4.....Exhale.....1.....2.....3.....4. I'm sure you get the point.

    Make sure you dress for this weather as well. When I work out in the summer, I wear shorts and a sleeveless shirt with socks and shoes. In the winter, I wear a loose long sleeved shirt and sweatpants. This is to absorb the sweat so my skin isn't immediately chilled by the cooler air. I also make sure my clothing is in good repair so I don't have anything hanging away from my body that could get caught on a weight or bench or anything else that could cause me to be off balance. As careful as you are in the summer, you need to be doubly careful in the winter.

    If you want another suggestion for aerobic days, try seeing if the local enclosed shopping mall has a senior walk program. Many malls across the nation open their outer doors an hour before the stores open for seniors and others to do “mall walks” for exercise. They don't allow running, but they do allow people to walk at a brisk pace, which is a very effective aerobic exercise. Remember what I said about marching? There you go.

    Today was my anaerobic day, so I started with the abdominal exercises, 28 V-ups and 40 bicycles, moved to my 150 situps, and went to the weight bench to start my lifts. Reversed the order again, chest, back, calves, legs, shoulders and arms. 10 minutes on the Gazelle at march pace and 3 minutes of cool down. Feeling good right now, and came directly to the keyboard after the cool down. Yes, I am still perspiring slightly, but it feels good and my muscles are still pumped from their endeavors. And the endorphins are kicking in nicely.

    As I mentioned earlier this week, even the fit have pains, but usually the pains are worth the results. And as long as you maintain your workouts safely and correctly, using proper form and making sure you are using the appropriate safety gear and procedure, I am sure you will agree.

    Think I will end this week with the same music I started with, just to remind you of the pattern of the march. And besides, who can hear this music and not think of Monty Python, and not smile?

    I hope you are having a blessed day.

    Fred
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