Don’t Forget to Exercise in the Winter

By StGeorgesUniversity
December 15, 2017

Every winter, Americans say good-bye to running shoes and workout clothes and hello to comfy couches and snuggly blankets. Indeed, far fewer Americans exercise during the winter than during the summer, according to a Gallup poll.[1]

It’s easy to see why. It’s difficult to find time to run or bike outside when there are fewer hours of daylight.[2] And colder temperatures can make it daunting to exercise outdoors — or even make the trek to the gym.

That’s a huge problem. Exercise is crucial to maintaining physical and mental wellness. It’s important that medical professionals encourage people to exercise — even when the days are shorter and colder.

A lack of activity can do serious damage to one’s physical health. Insufficient exercise levels have been linked to a huge array of chronic diseases — including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.[3]  

Exercise is particularly important for children’s physical well-being. A lifestyle packed with video games and television rather than regular activity can weaken muscles and bones. And it may result in early development of chronic diseases — setting up children for a long life of health problems.[4]

A sedentary lifestyle can also corrode mental health. A study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that women who didn’t exercise had a 99 percent higher chance of developing depression symptoms than those who exercised regularly.[5]

The St. George’s community recognizes the importance of exercise. We don’t suffer from cold winters in Grenada, but it’s crucial for our aspiring medical professionals and physicians to advocate for — and practice — active lifestyles year-round.

That’s why, in 2011, SGU sponsored the Sport for Health Program with the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation, the Ministries of Sport and Health, and the Grenada National Olympic Committee.[6] This program provides funding and support to Grenada’s secondary schools to give students access to sports programs.

Getting physical activity in the winter months can be tough. But it’s crucial. So doctors should implore patients to exercise regularly. The SGU community is committed to that mission.

In approaching the end of 2017 and contemplating the year ahead, we must remember to prioritize health and resist the urge for excess food and drink during this holiday season. However, do enjoy the tastes of the season, the company of loved ones and a healthy start to 2018.

 

[1] http://news.gallup.com/poll/151424/health-habits-continue-steep-winter-decline.aspx

[2] https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/pages/winterexercise.aspx

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4241367/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4241367/; https://www.livestrong.com/article/370982-lack-of-exercise-for-children/

[5] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/06/sitting-depression-mental-health-exercise_n_3880963.html

[6] http://www.sgu.edu/news-and-events/sport-health-launched-grenada/

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