Outdoor winter workouts: low-impact, high-intensity

For cold, we’ve got Barrow beat,

A strong wind will steal your heat.

     Despite what I ate,

     In the cold I lose weight,

But sure it’s a harsh way to cheat.

I’ve been following the weather on the internet. Ten days ago, the temperature in Barrow, Alaska ran twenty degrees colder than Sioux City.  For the last four days Sioux City has shivered ten to fifteen degrees colder than Barrow. 

I went out for a walk this morning in the frigid air, the house thermometer reading in the negative double digits.  With official wind gusts of thirty miles per hour, I put on two layers below the belt and four above.  Hat, mittens, neck warmer and hood, I figured, would be warm enough.

But for the wind blasting my face, I was right.  I turned back after two hundred yards.  I rummaged in my hunting gear till I found a mask. 

Of course the problem that developed once I went back outside had to do with my glasses.  While the wind in my face cleared frost well, when I turned around the polycarbonate iced over, then fine crystals blew in from the back. 

Winter workouts have advantages.  Walking in snow makes for a high-intensity, low-impact workout.  Breathing cold air burns a lot of calories.  I get the chance to see wildlife at a season when most people don’t venture out.

Four winters ago I walked every morning between 5:30 and 6:15.  As the winter progressed I followed the fortunes of the animals.  Two hen turkeys with three chicks roosted in trees a quarter-mile from the house; as time went by I noted their mortality, one by one, by tracks in the snow.  Here the signs of struggle, there a pile of feathers.  A fox got them, I could tell from footprints.   I knew where he lived, and I knew his ambush points by the number of turkey kills.  I found the breast bone of the last survivor, picked clean, on top of the snow in February. 

All active animals in winter need more calories.  When I shiver in a deer blind, I remind myself that I burn calories at the same rate I used to when I ran.  Even when I don’t shiver, I burn energy just by breathing.

In the evening, Bethany and I went out to a dinner seminar; the temp hovered at zero, and  20  MPH winds howled across the landscape. 

We arrived late, and missed the hors d’oeuvres.  I had been ready to write about the irony of eating large meals while listening to lectures about weight loss.  In an uncharacteristic burst of sanity, the food stopped with the appetizers.

When we got home, we found it too late to eat.

Just as well, Bethany and I both need to lose weight.


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One Response to “Outdoor winter workouts: low-impact, high-intensity”

  1. kourtnie Says:

    sign me up

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