Warming Up to Winter Fitness

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Elias Zani
  • 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
When temperatures drop as low as minus 50, it often becomes more difficult giving up watching TV, playing video games or eating that tasty pot of chili in exchange for heading to the gym for a workout.

The harsh Alaskan winters can even challenge the fittest Airmen, but all should strive to sustain an increased level of physical and mental toughness, gaining benefits that cannot be achieved without regular exercise.

"Athletics have always been a part of something that I consider a critical aspect of being in the military... It is not an option," Said Col. Jay Aanrud, 354th Fighter Wing vice commander.

Whether you are working out to compete in athletic competitions or are doing it to maintain physical fitness for testing, staying fit requires some degree of athletic exertion.

Being located only around 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle means that Eielson's winter is a dark one. This lack of sun light can affect the internal clocks and moods of the Iceman team.

Dana Baugh, 354th Medical Operations Squadron base dietitian at the Health and Wellness Center, said , "regular exercise in the daytime hours can increase positive moods as well as decrease stress and anxiety."

"B vitamins, Zinc, and Magnesium help promote better moods through brain activity; these vitamins are found in foods such as eggs, meat, and whole grains," Susan Runyan, 354th MDOS exercise physiologist at the HAWC, added.

All of this means that exercise, along with a healthy diet, can benefit Icemen during the interior Alaskan winters, which bring cold temperatures and little sunlight.

"During the winter there are too many other things that cause stress on us, and one positive aspect of physical fitness is the benefits we get from stress relief," said Aanrud.

While motivation to exercise can be difficult when it is 50 below, there are many ways to get involved and stay motivated.

"Challenge yourself with setting a goal to accomplish something that you don't know you can do. Try something that you may not be able to accomplish without hard work, sweat, and a level of effort," Aanrud said.

Competitions such as marathons and triathlons are everywhere, including the Baker Field House, which holds events like an indoor triathlon, strong man competition , and regularly has leagues for sports like volleyball and basketball.

One way to track your goal and stay accountable to it is through social media sites. In the past few years, these sites have dramatically increased in popularity, and their use to keep you accountable for your workout can be beneficial. Log progress so that friends and family can see it, later it can be reviewed to track progress and any long interruptions in activity might get others wondering why nothing has been logged, keeping you accountable.

Signing up for events that will occur later can also help motivate you to keep off the couch and in the gym. "You're not going to find a better facility than what we have here with the Icemen," said Aanrud.

Baker Field House offers a list of classes that are offered weekly, such as spinning, physical training preparation, and kickboxing.

Whether you lift weights, play basketball, swim, run, or do anything else, one thing is certain: staying motivated to work out is tough. Staying accountable is key, whether it is face to face or over social media, use one of these and stay fit over the winter months.

"Challenge yourself, Airmen, with taking on something that you may not know you can handle... Take a risk." said Aanrud.