As we approach the halfway mark of winter, have you found your commitment to the exercise habit waning? When the days are cold, dark, and gray, it can be hard to stay motivated to work out, especially if your fitness practice takes place outside. When it’s 20 degrees and overcast, you may not feel in the mood to do your usual run or ruck.
But, it’s a great idea to push yourself to do it anyway. And to start the outdoor activity habit in winter, even if you haven’t been an outdoor exerciser before.
The Biggest Benefit of Exercising in the Cold
There are a lot of articles out there that list the benefits of exercising in cold weather. Unfortunately, most of these oft-touted benefits are myths at worst or partially true at best. For example, the one outdoor winter exercise benefit that tops all the lists is “you’ll burn more calories.”
The idea is based on sound science: your body does burn more calories to warm itself up. But as exercise physiologist Dr. John Castellani noted in an interview in Outside magazine, “as you start to run [in the cold], you’ll reach a point where the energy burned doing the work is probably not all that different than if you were in a temperate environment.” Once your body is warmed up by the exercise, you’ll stop burning many extra calories. To really burn more calories in the cold, you’d have to start cold and stay cold.
Castellani notes that you might burn more calories in an outdoor wintertime workout because you’re wearing more clothes or running in the snow, both of which make your body work harder. But the calorie-burning boost just from your body working to stay warm won’t be that significant.
The other supposed benefit of cold-weather exercise is that it increases your VO2 max, but the research that this benefit is based on was done on animals. It’s not yet clear if it has the same effect on humans.
If you’re a runner, some studies do suggest that you’ll hit PRs when the temperature dips, but cold temps don’t shave very much off your times.
So basically, you shouldn’t count on outdoor cold-weather exercise to help you burn more calories or run longer and faster.
But, there is one benefit robustly supported by the research: exercising outdoors in the cold is great for your mental health.
During the winter, about 20% of Americans will experience seasonal affective disorder, or SAD — the “winter blues.”
The main culprit of SAD is the lack of sunlight due to shorter days and longer nights. Consequently, the best remedy for SAD is to get more sun.
While sunlight alone can boost mood, its effect is turbocharged when coupled with exercising and being in nature, which each also serve as mood boosters in and of themselves.
As I discussed with Dr. Jasper Smits on the podcast, exercise is just as effective as drugs and talk therapy for depression and anxiety. It boosts your mood quickly and provides long-term benefits in relieving symptoms.
Our brains also bloom when they’re taken outdoors. There’s been a ton of research done on the happiness-enhancing, stress-busting benefits of time spent in nature.
Sunlight + exercise + nature = a potent, highly-effective, mood-boosting tonic.
So if you’re looking to keep the black dog at bay this winter, consider taking your workout outdoors, even when it’s freezing outside. Go for a run or ruck. Snowshoe. Ski. Carry heavy things. Crawl. Hang from a tree. Just move your body outdoors in a way you enjoy.
Of course, there’s an inevitable catch-22 here: exercising outside can mitigate your feelings of melancholy, but when you’re feeling melancholy, you don’t feel like exercising at all, much less exercising outside in the cold.
A few things that can help you overcome this inertia:
Dress warmly. If you associate being outside in the winter with being miserable, it’s probably because you haven’t dressed appropriately for the conditions. If you don layers, and put on toasty gloves, socks, shoes, ect., you can keep yourself quite comfortable. Remember what the Scandinavians say, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.”Lay out your clothes. It is kind of a drag to suit up to go outside in the cold, more so when you have to hunt all over the house for your hat, gloves, jacket, and so on. Remove one inertia-creating obstacle from your workout routine by laying out all the clothes and accessories
Sunday Firesides. Sometimes the Critic Counts
“It is not the critic who counts.”
If this line from Theodore Roosevelt’s famous “Man in the Arena” speech is taken to mean that the individual who takes action has far greater worth than he who merely casts stones from the sidelines, then it can be adopted as an unassailable truth.
If, however, it’s taken to mean you should never listen to your critics, then it’s a mantra that cannot be universally applied.
T.R., after all, was a critic himself, and when he called individuals “fragrant man swine,” “little emasculated masses of inanity,” and “beings who belong to the cult of non-virility” — you can bet he wanted to be listened to (and probably should have been).
While adopting a blanket “f**k the haters” mindset may anesthetize the pain of receiving negative feedback, it comes at the cost of two key things:
First, you surrender a potentially helpful perspective.
We’d all do well to heed our inner voice and scorecard over that of the crowd. But we can lose track of that voice or allow ego to convince us we’re doing a better job than we are, and it can take an external observer to point that out.
Second, you forfeit — at least if you apply the “never listen to critics” standard with integrity/consistency — the right to be heard yourself.
Because if people shouldn’t listen to anyone else’s opinions, they shouldn’t listen to yours, either.
Little credit belongs to the masses of heckling, grandstand-riding spectators, who nine times out of ten, have nothing valuable to say. But to avoid developing what Teddy called “a mind that functions at six guinea-pig power,” it’s wise to recognize that sometimes the critic can count: when he’s someone you respect; when he’s someone who also has skin in the game; when he’s someone who’s got, well, a point.
The post Sunday Firesides: Sometimes, the Critic Counts appeared first on The Art of Manliness.
How to Diagnose and Treat Heat Stroke & Heat Exhaustion
It’s been freaking hot around the world this summer. Here in Oklahoma we’ve had more than a dozen days in July alone with temperatures over 100 degrees.
The chances of suffering a heat-related illness like heat exhaustion and heat stroke go up during extreme heat. According to the CDC, between 2004 and 2018, an average of 702 people died annually from heat-related causes, and thousands more ended up in the hospital. Small children and adults over 65 are most susceptible to heat-related illness. However, it can hit anyone who works or exercises vigorously in the heat. In fact, heat stroke is one of the three most common killers of soldiers and athletes in training.
Below we share how to recognize heat exhaustion and heat stroke and what to do to treat both conditions.
How to Recognize & Treat Heat Exhaustion
Heat Exhaustion Symptoms
Heat exhaustion occurs when your body can no longer cool itself down through sweating due to a loss of water and electrolytes. Heat exhaustion needs to be treated as soon as you recognize it in yourself or others. Left untreated, it can develop into its more severe sibling: heat stroke.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
Heavy sweatingCold, pale, and clammy skinFast, weak pulseNausea or vomitingMuscle crampsTiredness or weaknessDizzinessHeadacheBrief fainting (passing out)
How to Treat Heat Exhaustion
The goal of treating heat exhaustion is to cool the sufferer down and restore their fluids.
Move to a cool room. If you don’t have access to an air-conditioned room, at least move to a shady spot.Take a cold shower or bath. If that’s not possible, drape (do not tightly wrap — this will trap heat) cool, wet towels/cloths on the body. Turn a fan on these towels if you can. Remove extra clothing.Sip cool fluids, like water and Gatorade.
If heat exhaustion symptoms continue for an hour despite your treatment, seek professional medical assistance.
How to Recognize & Treat Heat Exhaustion
Heat Stroke Symptoms
Heat stroke is the most serious of heat-related illnesses. With heat stroke, the body has lost its ability to cool itself down, resulting in a dangerously high internal body temperature (above 104 degrees Fahrenheit). High internal body temperature is potentially life-threatening as it can cause seizures, organ failure, and rhabdomyolysis. Even if you recover from heat stroke, you can still suffer long-term damage to your heart, brain (creating cognitive deficiencies), kidneys (requiring lifelong dialysis or a transplant), and liver (also requiring a transplant). Heat stroke victims often die months after they’ve “recovered.”
To guide me on the intricacies of identifying and treating heat stroke, I talked to Dr. Sean Langan, a research assistant at the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut. The Korey Stringer Institute specializes in research in preventing heat stroke deaths among athletes.
Heat stroke symptoms include:
Central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction:ConfusionAggression/agitation (Dr. Langan says you frequently see heat stroke victims bite and punch people)DizzinessFaintingSeizuresVery high body temperature (104 degrees F or higher)Red, hot, dry skin (no sweating). Sean notes that you rarely see dry skin in people with exertional heat stroke (caused by exercising or working in the heat). Those exerting themselves in the heat may still be sweaty, and you’ll need to be on the lookout for other symptoms, particularly CNS dysfunction.Throbbing headacheNausea/vomitingRapid breathingRapid pulse
According to Dr. Langan, the critical heat stroke symptom to be on the lookout for is CNS dysfunction:
You can have really fit people who have an internal body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit at the end of a marathon who are fine. Their body is adapted to having that high of an internal temp so they don’t have any CNS dysfunction and they cool down quickly after they finish their race.
You can also have someone who has an internal body temperature of 103, but they’re experiencing CNS dysfunction. This person has heat stroke and needs to be treated.
If you see someone who’s been in the heat who’s showing signs of CNS dysfunction, your best bet is to start treating that person for heat stroke. To confirm, take their temperature with a rectal thermometer (it will give you the most accurate reading)
Podcast #678 Physical Benchmarks Every man should meet at every age
As men, we all want to be physically capable. We want to be able to save our own life in two ways: in the more metaphorical sense of wanting to preserve it in healthy, fit form for as long as possible, and in the more literal sense of being able to make it through an emergency unscathed. How do you know if you do possess that kind of lifesaving physical capability?
It’s time to do more than wonder, and really check in with yourself. My guest today has some helpful benchmarks that guys from age 8 to 80 can use to see if they’ve got an operative level of strength, mobility, and conditioning. His name is Dan John, and he’s a strength coach and the author of numerous books and articles on health and fitness. Dan walks us through the fitness standards the average male should be able to meet from childhood to old age, beginning with the assessments he gives to those who are 55 years old and older, which includes carrying their body weight, a long jump, and something called “the toilet test.” We then reach back to childhood, and Dan discusses the physical skills kids should become adept in, which were inspired by a turn-of-the-20th-century physical culturist who thought every individual ought to be able to save his own life, and which can be broken down into the categories of pursuit, escape, and attack. We end our conversation with the physical standards those in the 18-55 range should be able to meet, including how much a man should be able to bench press, squat, and deadlift, and the walking test that’s an excellent assessment of your cardiovascular conditioning.
Resources Related to the Podcast
My first and second interview with Dan“10 Things Every Lifter Should Be Able to Do”AoM Article: Don’t Just Lift Heavy, Carry HeavyAoM Article: Take the Simple Test That Can Predict Your MortalityAoM Article: The 10 Physical Skills Every Man Should MasterAoM Podcast #663: How to Achieve Physical AutonomyAoM Article: The History of Physical FitnessAoM Article: Every Man Should Be Able to Save His Own LifeAoM Article: 12 Balance Exercises You Can Do on a 2×4Shaker PlateAoM Podcast #508: Break Out of Your Cage and Stop Being a Human Zoo Animal
Connect With Dan John
DanJohnUniversity.com Dan on IGDan’s website
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Read the Transcript
Brett McKay: Brett McKay here, and welcome to another edition of The Art of Manliness podcast. As men, we all want to be physically capable. We wanna be able to save our life in two ways. First in the more metaphorical sense of wanting to preserve it in a healthy fit form for as long as possible. And second, in the more literal sense of being able to make it through an emergency unscathed. How do you know if you possess that kind of life-saving physical capability?
Well, it’s time to do more than wonder and really check in with yourself, and my guest today has some helpful benchmarks that guys from ages eight to 80 can use to see if they’ve got an operative level of strength, mobility, and conditioning. His name is Dan John. He’s a strength coach and the author of numerous books and articles on health and fitness.
Today on the show, Dan walks us through the fitness standards the average male should be able to meet
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