By Adriana Fernandez
Finding the motivation to exercise – even getting to the gym to exercise indoors – can be a challenge in winter.
Filmmaker Graham Agcaoili, said these factors don’t deter him from accomplishing the challenge he has imposed on himself as he continues to run twice a day a few days a week.
“I’m just a motivated person, so I don’t have any trouble going out and running,” said Agcaoili, who creates music videos and other commercial productions.
A native of the balmy Philippines, Agcaoili is braving Chicago’s winter to train for his first marathon. This just a few months after the 40-year-old stopped smoking. He said subzero temperatures do make it difficult to for him to run on the Lake Shore, but that he continues to train on the treadmill even if the sessions aren’t as enjoyable as a lakefront sprint.
Agcaoili added that he runs outside even in the low teens and that he makes sure to keep his muscles warm enough to function in the cold by practicing a variety of other workouts.
“To compliment my running, I do Yoga. That helps me stretch and feel good during cold months,” he said.
When it comes to the proper apparel for the cold, Agcaoili said he makes sure to wear running shoes with enough traction to run on icy roads, but more importantly, that they are the same pair he will wear for the marathon. Marathons are poor times to break in new shoes. Agcaolli also said he avoids layering up “too much” because he can get pretty hot during his runs.
Stretching and proper warm-up are essential to exercising during the winter, said Dr. Katrina Ordóñez, doctor of chiropractic and chiropractic director at Chiro One Wellness Centers in River North. Our muscles naturally contract to preserve the body’s internal heat, which makes them more prone to injuries during winter workouts, she explained.
“If you’re not warmed up prior to working out, whether it’s lifting weights or doing a fast cardio, you can pull a muscle,” Ordóñez said.
According to Ordóñez, many people don’t realize their workout routines aren’t only threatened by factors like icy sidewalks outdoors where it’s freezing, but indoors in winter.
“We can also become very dehydrated so that would also make us more prone to injuries,” said Ordóñez. “We are exposed to the hot air from buildings and if we’re not drinking enough water, it dehydrates your skin and your body.”
For some people, the struggle to stick to exercising during the winter is more of a psychological one than staying warm or hydrated. The experts say to set a fitness goals (like Agcaoili’s marathon challenge), to stay motivated when the going gets tough – or cold, said Fitness and Wellness Coach Gideon Akande, who trains at StudioThree.
“If you don’t know what you’re trying to do, what you’re trying to accomplish, or the level that you’re trying to achieve, there is really no reason for you to get out of bed in the morning,” Akande said.
Akande, who was recently ranked Men’s Health Top Trainer, expressed that could be as simple as being able to play with your children, as long as they make you “push and work hard to accomplish them.”
Photo at top: Cold temperatures don’t stop Ricky Rodriguez from exercising during winter months in Chicago. (Adriana Fernandez/MEDILL)
Correction 1/27/2016. Dr. Katrina Ordóñez, was identified as a physical therapist and director at Chiro One Wellness Centers in River North. She is a doctor of chiropractic and director of the centers. Medill Reports regrets the error.