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Alaska Sleep Education Center

Working Out and Sleeping Well in Winter

Posted by Stefanie Leiter

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on Jan 21, 2019 7:03:00 AM

It is dreary, windy, snowy, and bitter cold outdoors most of the fall and winter months for Americans. One of the quickest times of year to gain weight is through the holiday months from Halloween to New Years. Winter is also a challenging time to fit in a workout when you want to cuddle up with a good book by the fire at home. With less daylight and more comfort foods in the cupboards, spending time at the gym is the last place you want to be. But did you know without exercise your sleep can greatly affect your health?holiday_snowboarding

 

Exercise not only reduces stress but physical activity improves sleep quality and increases sleep duration keeping one in deep sleep longer. According to Sleep Doctor, increased deep sleep boosts the immune system, supports cardiac health, and helps control anxiety. Early morning and afternoon exercise may also help reset the sleep wake cycle by raising body temperature slightly, then allowing it to drop and trigger sleepiness a few hours later.

 

By taking a brisk walk in the woods or the neighborhood, you absorb vitamin D through natural sunlight and also take away cabin fever. But make certain you exercise not too close to bedtime as it can overstimulate your body. It is also safer to exercise outdoors during the daylight.

 

Scientific studies indicates exercise benefits individuals suffering from sleep disorders like insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea. By exercising 150 minutes of exercise a week, the National Institute of Health determined five days a week creates a consistent exercise routine. The question remains: what is the best exercise routine for the winter?

 

Spice up the competition. A study of nearly 800 people at the University of Pennsylvania determined competition as a motivating factor and more effective than emotional support for exercise. Apps can provide some competition amongst strangers where you can earn points or badges for exercising. Or find a friend or partner to workout with and challenge your routine.

 

Create goals. Try setting a goal for warmer weather. Maybe you want to try a 5k or half marathon in the spring. Start training in the winter months. If your New Year’s Resolution is health-related, set a timeline with goals to accomplish throughout the winter taking you into swimsuit weather.

 

Join a gym. Sounds simple enough to get out of the cold though not everyone has wiggle room in their budget after the holidays. Good news! Most gyms have specials in the month of January to encourage new membership and support those resolutions. No luck? Try Groupon to search for membership options. Make certain before signing any gym contracts to review the fine print.

 

Add winter sports. Challenge your body with some new activities. Grab a friend who enjoys skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing and give it a try. It never hurts to even go for a hike in the woods one winter afternoon on a guided trail.

 

exercise250Hire a trainer. Nothing gets you motivated like investing your own money into another individual. And bonus: it is all to make you healthier. A lot of gyms not only have personal trainers but some come to your home. A trainer can create a routine just for your body so you do not overexert yourself or give up due to being overwhelmed by the equipment.

 

Utilize your gaming system. Yes. Video games exist for couch potatoes but they also exist for those who have a passion of moving. If the outdoors is not a possibility, purchasing a Wii Fit for yourself could be a great late Christmas present. Games like Wii Sports or Dance Dance Revolution offer a variety of choices no matter how athletic the individual.

 

Rec or church leagues. Adults think there are little to no options for intramural or rec play when actually most churches and nonprofit organizations offer rec leagues. The most common indoor winter sports offered are basketball, floor hockey, volleyball, racquetball, and indoor soccer. Do some research online and find a league that fits your fitness goals and schedule.

 

Carve out the time. Many excuses exist for individuals not wanting to workout. But if you work at a larger office complex, stay an extra 30 minutes and climb some stairs. No stairs? Bring a workout DVD or watch some YouTube sessions to exercise in your office or a common space that is quiet after hours. For those who enjoy walking, malls have indoor programming for group walking or purchase a fitness app to track your steps and hit the mall.

 

Eye on the prize. Remember those goals you plan to set? Add some pictures to the fridge (inside and outside) of some tropical location you see yourself visiting in the summer. The visual reminder in your kitchen will help motivate you to stay on track. When grocery shopping, stay on the outside parameter of the store to avoid processed and sugary food like cookies or cereals.

 

It really is that easy! So many options exist during the winter months and what better time to get healthy than now. If exercise is part of your routine and you still are not getting adequate sleep, visiting your physician is your first step.

 

For a comprehensive analysis, you will need to schedule a sleep study with your local sleep clinic, such as Alaska Sleep Clinic. Our experts can provide a fully comprehensive evaluation of your sleep troubles and prescribe the best treatment for your dilemmas. If you live in the Alaska area, then be sure to give our experts a call for a free evaluation.

 

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Topics: exercise, winter

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