The sun's out! How does this missed phenomenon affect you?

Well, I can tell you that the fitness crowd has been reborn! It was like a revival or homecoming. People I haven't seen since the first snowflake fell have returned to fitness. Now that I'm back in Carson City, I see a lot of you bicycling, walking and getting back to exercise.

The rays of the sun affect us all. The day begins with the rising of the sun and so does the energy level. Depression sets in with clouds, and cold weather combined with fog is a real killer for anyone with a desire for sweat. Depression due to inclimate weather conditions isn't something new. If you lived in Alaska, you would know the feeling of winter depression. Weather extremes are difficult mental adjustments. When it's 10 below zero, the body reacts; little stamina, a tired lethargic feeling, short attention span and an even shorter temper. Bodies that were used to a good hard workout can find themselves stressed.

Even my seniors have suffered from the lack of outdoor exercise. And the lack of outside activity affects the level of Vitamin D that is needed for calcium absorption. Acceleration of aging, plus a lowering of physical capability in a senor student will be more pronounced during the winter months.

Dark winter hours bring on a drop in well-being. Muscles that were used to three hard workouts a week are lucky to achieve one. Two weeks of lower fitness standards can be astounding; back to beginner levels, and that doesn't do much for the mental attitude. Exercise adds so many benefits to your life. The sense of wellbeing you gain from the endorphins you create when you sweat help you through the winter.

It has been a long winter for all of us. Short tempers, lousy eating habits and no outdoor activity. Even the skiing crowd suffered from too little or too much snow. And indoor sports don't work when you can't get the car out of the garage. Take heart, it looks as if we may get a chance to use the sidewalks for awhile. The sun is out ... finally.

Jerry Vance is certified by the American Council on Exercise and teaches fitness at the Carson City Community Center and for the American Lung Association.


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