A deep freeze has gripped much of the nation. Yesterday, the temperature in Sag Harbor was 7, there were patches of ice where an earlier rain had frozen and branches continued to be brought down by the howling wind. A friend in Michigan reported it was -19 and even in Florida, my mother abandoned her morning walk because it was just too cold.
When it is cold, millions of years of evolution tells us to seek shelter and stay in the cave. Don't expend any unnecessary energy. And eat up because the cold is taxing on your body and you don't know where your next meal is coming from.
We need to fight that urge. We need to push ourselves to remain active. In fact, walking in cold weather has a slew of benefits. Here are five:
Fresh air and sunshine. Both are good for your mood and help to stave off the winter blues.
Vitamin D. You need it for your bones and sun helps you get it.
Burn more calories. Now, we are into this walking thing for our overall wellness and fitness but hey, burning a few more calories isn't bad and because your body is also working to stay warm, research suggests that a cold weather walk burns more calories.
Activate your immune system. Studies have shown that walking outside in winter can wake up your immune system.
Power up. A cold weather walk has been shown to result in a meaningful energy boost that lasts for hours after your walk.
That said, you must prepare for it. I've created a video on dressing for cold weather walking. And if your heart or respiratory system is compromised in any way, check with your doctor because walking in the cold does put additional strain on these systems. But if you are well and reasonably fit, the temperature is in the 20s or above and you have dressed appropriately, get out there!