Get Healthy Carson City: Stay active through winter
Carson City Health and Human Services
This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
The weather outside is frightful, but with a little preparation, you can still find delight in spending time outdoors. Active commuting, like walking and biking, is a great way to stay in shape through the winter. Getting around on foot or on two wheels is also a great way to experience Carson City. While the idea of stepping out in the cold may be daunting for some, these tips can help you get out and about, while keeping you comfortable.
Donna Inversin, Randy Gaa and Jeff Moser, all active commuters and members of Muscle Powered — Citizens for a Walkable and Bikeable Carson City, have offered suggestions to help more people embrace winter biking and walking.
Inversin enthusiastically endorses winter walking, saying, “I love the sound of the crunching snow and the way everything looks so different. I always consider foot or pedal first and the car only if I need to carry home a lot of heavy items or will be going too far to walk or bike.”
Moser agrees walking is a great way to get around our city in the winter, saying, “An ordinary walk to work becomes an adventure!”
Gaa, an avid cyclist, doesn’t see any need to hang the bike up when the weather turns cold.
Perhaps the most obvious key to success for winter walking and biking is dressing appropriately, but you might be surprised what works best. The right windproof, thermal and waterproof gear can keep you dry and warm regardless of the weather. However, resist the temptation to bundle too heavily. When you’re moving, your body generates heat, and wearing too much heavy clothing can cause you to sweat and become chilled.
“If you wear too much, you end up all sweaty by the time you get to work, but if you don’t wear enough, you spend all morning trying to warm up. The only way to really get your gear dialed in is to start using it. You’ll quickly figure out what works and what doesn’t, and from there you’ll make small adjustments,” says Gaa.
All three recommend dressing in layers, so you can adjust your attire to stay comfortable.
Choose the right footwear for warmth and safety. A waterproof boot is a good choice for winter walking. To keep from slipping on the snow and ice, invest in traction devices that go over the soles of boots or shoes to add extra grip. These are an inexpensive way to avoid a potentially painful fall. For people who bike, neoprene toe covers can keep feet from being cold on your commute, and swapping your road bike for one with wider or studded tires can help improve travel through winter conditions.
Don’t let darkness stop you from getting out. Even though it gets dark early in the winter, reflective clothing and lights improve visibility and make it possible to walk or bike year-round. Affordable, bright LED lights can be commonly found in many stores and are small enough to carry everywhere. Having lights with you at all times also helps to alleviate any concerns that you will get caught in the dark during shorter winter days.
Not only are walking and biking great forms of exercise, they’re fun.
“Getting exercise during the winter months is vital to keeping the spirits up and preventing cabin fever,” says Jeff Moser.
Staying healthy all year long and beating the winter blahs are great reasons to brave the chill and try out winter walking or biking.
For people who would like to try out winter walking, our partner organization Muscle Powered offers weekly walks led by Inversin. For a schedule, visit http://www.Musclepowered.org.