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Benefits of Stretching in Cold weather

It’s getting colder outside, but many people still want to get in a daily run, ride or walk. Outdoors exercise can be done safely in lower temperatures, says Dr. David Buchalter an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at OrthoMaryland. But some precautions are necessary. It’s important to stretch, drink fluids and cover your head in the cold
It is important to stretch and warm up in all types of weather. However, our bodies tend to stiffen more easily in cold weather. So frequent stretching is very important in the cold to help lessen the chance of injury, particularly muscle strains and tears.
Some people confuse stretching with warming up. Warming up is an essential preparation for exercise, but there are mixed reviews about stretching, and the weather has nothing to do with whether stretching is necessary. Cold muscles, regardless of the temperature outside, are more prone to injury when they are not adequately prepared for movement. But the best way to warm muscles isn’t with stretching, it is with light aerobic activity. Once your warmed up and physical activity are underway, stretching periodically during and after exercise is appropriate especially in cold weather, to keep muscles warm.
Cold weather affects the body’s systems in different ways. The cardiovascular system responds to cold by increasing the heart rate and blood pressure and reduces the amount of blood closest to the skin’s surface. The airway passages of the cardiorespiratory system tend to narrow, making inhalation more difficult, so persons susceptible to asthma or exercise-induced bronchitis may have more difficulty breathing in cold air. The bodily stores of glucose (a sugar) are depleted five times more quickly in cold weather, leading the body to use fat more readily to supply energy for itself. While the consequences of exercising in cold weather can be severe, there are several straightforward and effective ways to prepare. Wearing layered clothing is one of the first steps the cold-weather athlete should take. Wearing a hat or hood is another important precaution, as more than 50 percent of the body’s heat is lost thought the head.
For more information on this subject you may contact Brenda Bark with Focus on Fitness at Brenda@myfocusonfitness.com or website myfocusonfitness.com. Hava a safe Holiday season, and stay fit!