AustinPUG Health

AustinPUG Health

Ah, winter. When the mornings come later, the nights come sooner, and life itself seems to be frozen solid at every turn, it can be far too easy to convince ourselves to put our feet up and relax by a warm heat source, leaving the chill for those foolhardy enough to brave it.

That point of view definitely has excellent benefits as far as relaxation is concerned, but staying within your four warm walls isn’t likely to give your physicality much of a boost. Statistics show that up to 70 percent of the Western population agrees that they lose muscle tone and gain excess fat during the winter months, providing us with all the proof that we need to convince ourselves to make a point to get and stay active, even when it’s deep into the cold outside according to your thermometer.

Winter: Such a Downer

The reduced hours of sun exposure and frigid temperatures in many parts of the world are to blame for nearly all of the physical ills we suffer in the winter months, from falling out of physical shape to catching the common cold. The effect is so predominant, in fact, that it’s got a medical name: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

As a diagnosis, SAD affects relatively few of us, but, as a fact of the winter months, we’re all brought down at least a bit by taking in less of what the outdoors has to offer. Luckily, you have the tools you need to beat it – a diet full of foods that help conquer SAD, and an exercise routine that encourages motivation at every turn.

Staying motivated to be active during the winter months can be tough, but involving yourself in winter-themed, often team-based sports is a sure way to create just the atmosphere you need to get out and get fit!

Play Hockey for Good Health

Maybe you grew up a fan of the game in a cold climate, as I did, or maybe you’re considering strapping on a pair of skates and picking up a stick only because you need something to do on a chilly afternoon, but, either way, the sport of hockey has just what it takes to whip you into shape all winter long!

Of course, I’m not suggesting that you hit up a professional training camp and attempt to make the big leagues; rather, a local beer league or friendly pond hockey spread will do just fine. Played even at a gentleman’s pace, hockey requires a tremendous amount of body movement that will allow you to tone every muscle it’s made of, forcing you to skate strong and breathe hard in the name of a good sweat and a better goal (or three – hat trick!).

Another aspect of hockey that ranks it particularly well among winter games played for exercise is the fact that it is, by necessity, a team sport, making you instantly accountable to your teammates, as well as yourself, where your new exercise routine is concerned. This will help to give you an extra boost when you need one; I’m guessing it will be right around the moment that you’ve pressed your alarm clock’s “snooze” button on a morning that brought a foot of fresh snow down.

To sum things up, here is a quickly digestible list of hockey’s benefits for a casual player:

  • Lose weight. There’s no way you can move at the pace even the most casual hockey game demands and not slim down.
  • Develop your cardiovascular system. High action hockey means an increased blood rate and a well-oxidized body, leaving your heart, lungs, and arteries to bask in the benefits.
  • Be stronger. You’ve got about 25 pounds of gear on as you move about on ice skates while chasing a rubber puck around, all for three 20 minute periods per game. Enough said.
  • Improve coordination. We don’t start out skating like the wind, but that aspect of hockey is surprisingly easy to pick up and enjoy, improving your coordination and balance all the while.

Alright, pal – hit the ice! You’ll thank me – and hockey – later.

Categories: Health care

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