Finding Fun in Winter WorkoutsTHE PHYSICIAN AND SPORTSMEDICINE - VOL 24 - NO. 12 - DECEMBER 96
Some people think winter is a good reason not to exercise. But I've observed a population that doesn't agree.
The Physician and Sportsmedicine is published in Minneapolis, so I travel there from my post at Ohio State University even in winter. People who live anywhere south of Cleveland consider Minneapolis to be climatically challenging because it has the same weather as Moscow and is colder than Anchorage. But consider the exercise opportunities that Minnesotans have discovered and all Northerners can emulate.
Even when the temperature drops to 30 degrees below zero, the marginally acclimated can find good space for indoor exercise: In the Twin Cities, it's the MegaMall. (Outsiders call it the Mall of America, and it is the biggest indoor mall in the US.) If you walk briskly past the shops that line three levels of the mall you cover 1.5 miles. By midday, baby strollers convert the mall into an obstacle course suitable for training Marines.
When the temperature is above 20 below and it is sunny outside, many people jog around the city lakes or skate on them. Other folks chop holes through two-foot thick ice to catch fish. Chopping ice, like splitting logs, is good exercise. If global warming spikes the temperature to 50°, Minnesota men take off their shirts and play ultimate Frisbee on the ice fields.
Dog sledding is popular in northern Minnesota and is good exercise because the driver does not ride on top of the sled, but runs after it shouting "gee" or "haw" or "whoa!," depending on what he or she wishes the dogs to do. The main problem is figuring out where to put the overheated dogs in the summer.
Minnesota is as hilly as Kansas, so alpine skiing is poor. But cross-country skiing is great because there is lots of snow except in July and August. Cross-country skiing is one of the best aerobic exercises because in order to move across the tundra you need to push with your arms and legs at the same time.
Some Minnesotans, of course, would rather be in Florida. They buy a treadmill and take long walks while watching travel programs on television.
If you're from the North, you and your patients can take a tip from the Minnesotans. If you're from the South, refer to our cover photo.