By Caslon Hatch
Channel 2 News
7:42 AM AKST, January 16, 2013
A commitment to health and fitness for some involves yearlong dedication. Dedication that Olympian skier Lars Flora said can really take a toll on your lungs in the wintertime.
“If you don’t protect your lungs you can run the risk of getting a cough, even develop a little scar tissue,” said Flora. “A lot of times you’re getting that tightness in your chest when you first get out in the cold, and as your lungs warm up, as you breathe, you can do some deep breathing to warm those lungs up.”
According to active outdoors-man Dr. Phil Hess, a reason why some people feel that burn in their chest during exercising in cold temperatures is because most people aren’t breathing properly.
“If you’re exercising and breathing through you nose you’re making the best of what your body can do,” said Hess. “Breathing through your mouth is a little bit harder because the air has a shorter pathway to your lungs and so it doesn’t warm as much as it normally would.”
One tip Dr. Hess suggests is breathing through your nose to help warm up your respiratory system faster.
“Our bodies are made to warm the air as you breath in through your nose, in fact, that's part of what the sinuses are designed to do. So, when you're exercising, when you're breathing through your nose, that air cycles around and warms before it enters your lungs,” Hess said.
People with asthma need to take extra precautions. Dr. Hess recommends easing into outdoor exercise, especially in cold temperatures.
“People with asthma have issues with cold air so if you're asthmatic you do need to be very careful with cold weather and make sure you have your inhaler with you,” Hess said.
When it comes to muscles in winter weather, Michael Swetnam, a personal trainer, describes them as "taffy."
“The best way I like to describe it is your muscles are like Laffy Taffy, so if a piece of Laffy Taffy is outside it’s going to break in half. You go inside where it’s warm, it’s going to be nice and chewy just like muscles would be,” said Swetnam.
Before any strenuous workout in the cold, Swetnam said a good warm-up is in order.
“That’s what helped me out. I’m from the south and it’s not nearly as cold there as it is here,” Swetnam said.
Exercising outdoors in frigid temps is still encouraged.
“Daylight is a rare thing in winter, as we all know, and anytime you can get out and soak in a little bit. I think it improves energy levels, it improves a sense of well-being and it can improve your sleep pattern,” said Dr. Hess.
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