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Bundle up and go this winter

    Jack Frost has already been nipping at our noses this week but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t bite back and get outside for a walk, jog or just poking around in the yard.
    It may be hard to leave the warm comforts of home for a jaunt outside but that’s exactly what we should do for both our mental and physical health.
    Make “bundle up and go” your winter mantra.
    Especially for those who spend most of our time indoors and in offices, getting some outdoor time will do wonders for your mood – not to mention your waistline. [For those of you who work outdoors, be satisfied that this doesn’t apply to you.]
    But for many of us, our time outdoors when winter hits drops to a quick dash from the car to the office and this isn’t good. The benefits to your mood of braving the elements trumps the momentary discomfort and possibility of later sniffles any time.
    When we head outside and breathe in fresh air – regardless of how cold – and on sunny days gather up some vitamin D into our systems - it’s like taking a happy pill. No Zoloft required. We may want to stay buried under those covers or curled up on the couch next to a fire because we think it will make us happy and relaxed but in reality the cold stimulates our parasympathetic system – aka our “relax and renew” system. These endorphins can trigger the release of dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters that keep us happy and feeling good.
    People who exercise outdoors, especially in cold, brisk weather, have more energy than those who exercise inside on treadmills or ellipticals. Nothing wakes us up like a brisk walk on a cool morning.
    The saying “like a breath of fresh air” to describe something invigorating is both appropriate and literally true.
    Grandma may have said going outside in chilly weather can make us “catch” a cold but, according to doctors, that simply isn’t true. Sorry Grandma, going outside is one of the best things you can do to prevent catching a cold. Viruses or bacteria are more often spread in the winter because of close contact from everyone being indoors.
    One of the great things about living in Georgia is that it’s rarely too hot, cold, windy or rainy to keep you from getting outside. There are exceptions, but bear in mind this Friday and Saturday during our Christmas parades in Jasper and Ball Ground that fans go outside and watch football games in Chicago, Green Bay and Pittsburgh in ridiculous weather. Surely we can handle the 40s and some drizzle.
    It’s all a matter of being prepared for the weather. A good winter coat and hat makes all the difference. Consider it an investment in time – more time outside.
    According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the biggest mistakes you can make while exercising in cold weather is to dress too warmly. In The Christmas Story, the mom bundles Ralphie’s little brother up before sending him off to walk to school. With laborious dedication, he tries to keep up with his older brother but finds himself unable to walk because he’s so bundled up. He ends up lying in the snow as he’s so over-dressed he can’t get up when he falls.
    With the way the season is starting, there will be days that are only fit for sitting indoors, but there won’t be many if you are committed to bundling up and going for at least a few minutes. Foul weather can discourage even the most motivated among us.    
    Don’t let this winter keep you stuck inside.

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