The Washington Post

Winter is common time for cardiovascular problems

Heart health: Being coldhearted can be dangerous
Men’s Health, February

The dead of winter is one of the most common times of the year for cardiovascular problems; holiday-time lack of exercise and weight gain is only partially to blame. “Inhaling very cold air through your mouth chills your coronary arteries, which then constrict,” says New York University cardiologist Howard Weintraub. “This can dangerously reduce the volume of blood being pumped to your heart.” So wrap a scarf around your mouth to warm the air. Overexercising can aggravate the effects of the cold, particularly for those who are out of shape. Unless you stuck to your workout program over the holidays, it is best to ease back into exercise. Other points that author Melissa Gotthardt makes: A Texas Heart Institute study found that heart attacks spiked when influenza rates peaked. She says this is due to viral infection causing inflammation, which can disturb arterial plaque and cause clots to form. (So get a flu shot.) Another study found that people with the lowest level of Vitamin D were, for unknown reasons, at greater risk than others of having a heart attack. Because our bodies produce less Vitamin D in the winter, the article suggests taking a supplement.

Exercise: Avoiding those ruts
Fitness, January

I’m too tired, I’m too busy, I’m too far away from my goal. Who hasn’t made these excuses for not exercising? In “Improve Your Sweatitude,” Liz Neporent suggests nine strategies for getting out of your fitness rut, with some science to back up the suggestions. To start with, Neoporent suggests breaking up your workout with bursts of speed. She refers to a study that found that “exercisers who did 50-minute runs rated their enjoyments as much higher when they mixed in six 3-minute intervals.” Another study suggests that exercising at an easy pace just three days a week boosts energy levels. If being short on time is your excuse, Wayne Westcott, formerly director of fitness research programs at Quincy College in Massachusetts, points out that just a little bit can help: “Most people think they need to exercise for 30 to 60 minutes, which can seem daunting, but you can actually get a better workout in just 20 minutes” by alternating two minutes of moderate-intensity cardio with two minutes of high-intensity intervals. And if all else fails, think about all the time you’ve wasted making excuses, and imagine how much better you’d feel if you’d put that time into a brisk walk.

Whitney Fetterhoff

Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.