Winter Walking

January 6, 2009 12:08:37 PM PST
Did you know that the average person gains 10 pounds over the cold winter months? Seven of those pounds are usually gained between Thanksgiving and New Year's. That's a lot of stress on our heart, joints, and self-esteem! With shorter days and colder weather, it's easy to get in a rut of eating comfort food and reducing activity levels. That's why Karen Rzesutko and Lizz Gallagher of Escape 2 Fitness started a winter walking club, The Escaping Eskimos.

If you'd like to walk on your own, Karen and Lizz have some tips to make sure your health stays on track over the next few months, even when the temperatures fall.

Dress in Layers:

Focus on three layers: the base layer with thin fabrics like silk or wool, a mid layer like fleece to keep you insulated, and an outer layer like a wind jacket to protect you from the elements. Layering works well with cold temperatures because it helps you stay warm and provides an easy way to regulate your body temperature. If you get too hot, just unzip or remove a layer. Don't forget your hat and gloves!

Stay Hydrated:

Just because the temperature isn't sweltering does not mean you can't get dehydrated. Always take water along with you, and drink throughout your walk. Even though you may not feel thirsty when you're exercising in the cold, your body is working extra hard to moisten the dry winter air that you are breathing in.

Have a snack:

Having something warm to eat before heading outside is ideal. A small bowl of low-sugar oatmeal is a great choice to keep you a little warmer on the inside and fuel you for your outdoor workout.

Ideal Temperatures:

Once the temperature falls below 10 degrees minus zero, it can be dangerous to be exercising outdoors. To play it safe, plan on exercising indoors on the days that it falls below the zero mark. Always check the temperature BEFORE heading outside.

Longer Warm Ups:

Don't waste time with static stretches but, instead, focus on doing activities to get your body ready for the coming workout. If you're walking or running, start with a brisk walk and stay at that pace until you start to feel warmer. Gradually increase your pace and give your body extra time to get the blood flowing.

The Escaping Eskimos Winter Walking Club

Bundle up, grab your water bottle, and meet outdoors for a 4-week winter walking club, The Escaping Eskimos. The program runs for 4 months out of the year, but participants need only to commit one month at a time. Studies show people have a higher success outcome of achieving fitness results when they exercise in groups and make a commitment. This program is designed to help Chicagoans stay motivated and fit during the cold months. There's no winter blues in our super fun winter walking club!

The January session begins this week and runs through January 29 on Monday and Wednesday from 6 to 7 am; Tuesday and Thursday from 6:30 to 7:30 am, or Monday and Wednesday from 5:30 to 6:30 pm. The club will also meet February 2 through 26 and March 2 through 26.

How to Register
Participants must register online or by calling 312-222-1414. Walk-ins not accepted.

Where to Meet
Participants are instructed to meet 5 minutes prior to class start time on the west end of Ohio Street Beach, closest to the lake path. You will see the Escape 2 Fitness instructor bundled up and wearing an Escape 2 Fitness hat.

Who Can Participate
All fitness levels are welcome. All participants must complete an Escape 2 Fitness waiver prior to participating. All participants must be 18 year of age or accompanied by a parent or guardian.

What to Bring
Participants are instructed to bring a water bottle, resistance tube, pedometer, and a towel. New participants are recommended to purchase a starter kit. Our trainers will help you set your pedometer stride length on the first day of class.

What to Wear
Be sure to dress in layers. Once you begin to sweat, you may want to remove wet clothing to keep your body warm. Wear well-supported walking shoes. If you have had your shoes for over a year, time to get new shoes! Our feet are the foundation for the rest of our joints, so be sure to make sure your walking shoes are in good condition. Shoes worn daily should be replaced every 3-4 months due to loss of shock absorbency.

When the Weather's Severe
When the temperature is minus 10 degrees with the wind chill, the class will be cancelled. Our office hours do not begin until 9:00am, so do not call the office prior to that time. It will be understood that the class is cancelled, and participants should plan to meet the following day. If there's a stretch of dangerously cold temperatures, please await instructions from our Escape 2 Fitness team. We will email and /or call you with instructions.