Exercise routines altered by winter's onset

Cold weather contributes to higher metabolism, which could intensify workout

As the winter weather finally begins to settle in, junior Cristy Kennedy, like many students, is finding it hard to be excited about keeping up her exercise routine.

"Sunlight makes you want to be more active," Kennedy said. "But the winter makes you want to curl up and watch television."

Kennedy, an exercise science major, makes her way to the gym five days a week. Her usual winter routine consists of jumping on a Pre-core - a machine that simulates the circular motion the hip makes when running or walking - before making her way around the room for weight lifting.

"I do more inside," she said. "It's a lot easier and the facilities are all together. And running outside, the cold air hurts my chest."

But according to registered nurse and Ball State graduate Katy Smith, there are many people who enjoy exercising in cold weather.

"A lot of people, especially runners, say they like working outdoors in the winter because it raises their metabolism because their body needs to do more to keep warm. They say they lose weight running in the cold," she said.

But Smith warns that the cold temperatures are not safe for all people.

"People who have problems with asthma or people who are prone to sickness should be careful," she said. "The cold air can make them sick when it hits their lungs, and it can lead to bronchio spasms."

For those who choose to work out in the winter conditions, there are some precautions to keep in mind.

First, Smith said, it is important to wear breathable materials like cotton or fleece, and wear it in layers. Hats are also important because the body loses the most heat from the top of the head.

Before heading out the door, it is a good idea to warm up and stretch inside.

"Everything will clamp down, and blood vessels will go closer to the muscles to keep warm," she said. "So, I'd say it's important to get the muscles ready inside."

And, when the workout is over, Smith also said it is also important to cool down inside.

"Resist the urge to strip down when you get inside," she said, "so you don't go from one extreme to another. That can lead to sickness."

But for some, winter conditions like ice and cold temperatures, are too much, so many exercise enthusiasts have found fun workouts that keep them inside.

Tae Bo has become very popular during the past few years. Creator and instructor Billy Blanks weaves cardiovascular and strength training into kick boxing routines. For junior Kristen Kay, popping a Tae Bo video into the VCR is more timely and effective than going to the gym.

"Tae Bo is easier than going to the gym," she said. "It gives you a good workout, and I feel energized when I'm done. I don't get bored with it."

For other students, like senior business administration major Emily Beck, getting out of the house is the only way to ensure working out. Beck attends the Ball State recreation aerobic classes.

"Just going there, having the instructor pumping you up and seeing other girls doing the same thing keeps you motivated," she said. "It makes it fun."

Although they do different exercise programs, Kay and Beck agree that one way to keep workouts fun is to do it with a friend.

"If you meet someone at class or the gym, then you can't really back out," Beck said. "It makes it more fun too, because you're not focusing on how hard it is. You're focusing on what a good time you're having."


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