For some of us, winter means hibernation and a general lack of energy. How do you beat the winter blues? Here’s one way: get outside and do some winter walking. Did you know that one hour of aerobic exercise outside has the same therapeutic effects as 2.5 hours of light treatment indoors? This is because it raises serotonin levels, which decrease in the darker winter months.
- It’s all about attitude. Think “brisk” and “invigorating” instead of colder thoughts.
- Cover your head and other parts to stay warm. Dress in layers, and don’t forget the mittens or gloves and hat — you lose 35 percent of your body heat through your head!
- Pay extra attention to your feet. Wear warm socks with room for toe wiggling. Lace up walking shoes with plenty of traction for those occasional icy patches.
- Wear bright or reflective clothing and stay visible. With fewer daylight hours and cloudy conditions, it’s important to don a high-visibility outer layer.
- Pick your path. Arlington is blessed with an extensive trail network, plus scores of walkable neighborhoods and urban villages.
- Consider the conditions when planning your route. Walk where trees offer some shelter from the wind. In nasty weather, try a shopping mall, where you can walk — and window shop – without abandoning your walking regimen.
- Be safe and be seen. Follow basic safety rules, like looking both ways before you cross a street, crossing at marked crosswalks, watch for traffic, paying attention to cyclists, and walking to the right on trails and paths.
- Walk with friends or in places where there are other walkers. Consider joining a walking group like WalkArlington Walkers on Meetup.com.
- Share the way. Be mindful of cyclists, runners, and other trail users. Walk on the right, and listen for bells and audible warnings.
- Start slowly and take it easy. Muscles warm up as you go. Adjust your pace for the weather conditions to decrease your chances of straining a muscle or taking a fall.
For additional walking resources, event listings, news, and more tips, visit http://www.WalkArlington.com.