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Winter exercise encouraged to maintain health through the cold months during the pandemic

"Physical activity and exercise is probably the best medicine you can have," Dr. Papuchis says.

WASHINGTON — The winter months often bring some of the laziest months for many Americans. The end of daylight-saving time can turn gym rats into couch potatoes. But with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, flu season, and working from home, some challenges have been presented with staying active.

“Physical activity and exercise is probably the best medicine you can have for a variety of different issues, not just pain, but for cardiovascular health for longevity,” said Steven Papuchis, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation.

Dr. Papuchis said this winter is not the time to be inactive when thinking of maintaining overall health. 

“This is kind of an almost two-pronged approach when we talk about exercise and how it helps fight off infections. Number one, exercise increases your blood, your body's circulating white blood cells, it releases them from their stores, and it allows them to go around and monitor for infections that come about, or if you have infections, they can be more readily available to fight them off.”

Britt Daniels is a personal trainer at VIDA Fitness. He’s teaching classes outdoors to keep his members active. 

“Our mental health is so tied to our physical. The best way to get out of your head is to get into your body. That's the most effective strategy I can tell anyone,” said Daniels.

The holidays tend to come with all the delectable food, seasonal sweets and treats. 

“Food doesn’t “not” have to be good for it to be healthy and for you to enjoy it. It's really 70% nutrition, 30% what you do in the gym,” said Daniels.

Both Daniels and Dr. Papuchis understand everyone can’t or doesn’t want to go to the gym, but there are at-home activities everyone can do to get your blood flowing. 

“That can be pushups, that can be squats, that can be planks, focusing on your core,” Daniels added.

Dr. Papuchis said they’ve seen an influx of patients with back and neck pain and injuries and simply getting up and moving can make a difference. 

“I think exercise is a really undervalued and underutilized medicine in today's day and age, not just for fighting off infection and staying healthy, but for a variety of different issues.”

Dr. Papuchis also said exercise makes the body more resilient. In the event you do catch a cold this winter, your body is strong enough to help fight it off.

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