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Page added on January 28, 2014

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Having enough energy to stay active in cold weather

You may be worried about having enough energy to exercise. These tips can help.  And remember this: Exercise can actually give you more energy. After they start to be more active, most people feel more energetic throughout the day.

Eat a balanced diet

Unless you’re exercising for an hour or more, you don’t need to eat more calories or eat special foods for energy. A balanced diet will give most people the energy they need for physical activity.  Have a healthy snack like an apple, a whole-wheat bagel, or a handful of baby carrots if you’re running low on energy. Nutrition bars are convenient, but be sure to read the label. They can be high in calories.

Drink plenty of fluids

Many people do not drink enough fluids to balance the loss from sweating from physical activity. To protect yourself from dehydration:

  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after you are active. This is very important when it’s hot out and when you do intense exercise.
  • Use a sports drink, such as Gatorade or Powerade, if you will be exercising for longer than 1 hour, and try to drink it at least every 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol. They increase dehydration.
  • Don’t take salt tablets. Most people get plenty of salt in their diets. If you are worried about replacing minerals lost through sweating, use a sports drink.
  • If you get dizzy, light-headed, or very tired, stop exercising.

Make sure you’re rested

If you feel weak and tired but aren’t sick:

  • Try a short, brisk walk or similar activity. You may find that walking for 5 to 10 minutes actually gives you more energy.
  • Switch back and forth between rest and exercise. Gradually increasing your exercise may give you more energy.
  • Avoid medicines that can cause tiredness, such as tranquillizers and cold and allergy medicines.
  • Improve your diet. Eating a balanced diet may give you more energy. Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast.
  • Stay away from alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. They can actually make you feel tired.
  • Cut back on watching TV. Spend that time with friends, try new activities, or travel to break the cycle of tiredness.
  • Get a good night’s sleep:
    • Try to get rid of all sounds and lights in your bedroom.
    • Don’t eat just before you go to bed.
    • Use your bed only for sleeping and sex. Do not read or watch TV in bed.
    • Get regular exercise during the day, but not within 3 or 4 hours of bedtime. Figure out what time of day works best for your sleep patterns. Outdoor exercise may help.
    • If you feel weak and tired because of a cold or the flu:
    • Get extra rest while you are ill. Let your symptoms be your guide.
    • If you have a cold, you may be able to go on with your usual routine and just get some extra sleep.  If you have the flu, you may need to spend a few days in bed.
    • Return slowly to your usual activities.
    • Drink plenty of fluids so you don’t get dehydrated.

There are plenty of ways to be active in fall and winter, even if the weather turns cold. You can stay in shape and have fun while you’re at it. Here are some ideas:

Indoors

  • Go for walks at the mall with a friend. Local schools and churches may have indoor gyms where you can walk. You may want to buy a pedometer from a sporting goods store. You can use it to count your steps. This will help motivate you to walk more.
  • Get some hand weights or stretch bands to use at home for resistance exercise. You can get fit while you watch your favourite TV show or listen to music. Try doing a little more each week. Use cans of food if you don’t want to buy weights.
  • Buy or rent an exercise DVD, or borrow one at the library. If you have an MP3 player, you can download audio routines from the Internet. This can be a fun way to stay in shape at home.
  • Take the stairs and fit in walk breaks whenever you can. This will give you extra activity, even on a busy day.
  • Do active housework like sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, doing laundry, or washing the windows. You can stay active while you keep your home looking good.
  • Join a gym or health club. You can use machines like treadmills, stair-climbers, or exercise bikes. Try a fitness class or a new indoor activity, like dancing or water aerobics. Many cities have community centres that offer affordable fitness classes.
  • Get involved in sports leagues in your community or at work. Many cities offer indoor sports like basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer, or swimming.
  • Rake leaves or do other yard work.
  • Bundle up, and take the dog for a walk. This can help you make walks part of your daily routine.
  • Shovel snow. This can be great winter exercise. But if you have heart problems or other health concerns, be sure to ask your doctor if shovelling snow is okay. Overdoing it can put dangerous strain on your body.
  • Try a new winter activity like skating, cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing. When you do outdoor activities in less populated areas, be sure to plan ahead. Let people know where you will be, and take the right gear for the conditions.

Outdoors

Dress for cold weather

If you plan to be active outdoors, wear clothes that fit well and keep you warm and dry. For protection, it’s best to wear:

  • A warm hat. If it’s very cold, you also may want to wear covering for your face, such as a scarf.
  • Layers of clothing to keep you warm. Wear waterproof outer layers to keep you dry.
  • Clothing made of wool or polypropylene. These will keep you from losing body heat even if the fabric gets wet. Don’t wear cotton.
  • Wool socks and waterproof shoes. Socks and shoes should fit closely but not too tight.
  • Mittens rather than gloves. This way, your fingers are together so you can roll them into a fist for warmth.

Be safe

Check with your doctor before you start a new activity if:

  • You have heart problems or other health issues.
  • You have not been active in a long time.

Be sure to stop and call your doctor if you have chest pain or feel dizzy during any physical activity. If you have breathing problems like asthma or COPD, ask your doctor before being active in cold weather.   To stay safe, try to do your walking and other activities when it’s light out. Use your lunch break, or do family activities when the kids get out of school. If it’s dark out, walk with a partner.

Be careful not to slip on wet or icy ground. You can buy “grippers” for your shoes to help keep you from slipping. Avoid outdoor activity in extreme cold, and take the wind chill into account.

To learn more winter health, contact your doctor or speak to a nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling: Alberta Health Link toll free at 1-866-408-LINK (5465).  Mandarin Health Link Calgary at 403-943-1554, Cantonese Health Link Calgary at 403-943-1556

Source: www. myhealth.alberta.ca









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