Healthy Living


Man and women jogging in the winter

A message from Ken Johnson, President & CEO of HRHS

The holiday season has passed and for many, the aftereffects may include a few extra pounds gained because of a larger-than-normal intake of calories is consumed at family gatherings and parties.  

To further complicate matters, January is traditionally the coldest month of the year producing below freezing temperatures, which are less than conducive for outdoor physical activity.

Still, freezing temperatures need not be a deterrent to any exercise program as Hutchinson is home to first-rate fitness centers with an additional option soon to open for business in the former Osco building at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Plum Street. And, for those who like to walk indoors the public can step it off in the tunnel at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, without charge.

And, even during the winter months, there are many days when the temperature rises above 32 degrees, which encourages outdoor exercise.

The benefits of exercise are endless.

Exercise increases the levels of good cholesterol and reduces bad, which may lead to a speedier recovery from illness and injury. Circulation in the lungs and heart improve with exercise, along with one’s ability to control blood sugar-reducing the risk of diabetes. The chance for chronic diseases is reduced every day you exercise.

An exercise program may increase longevity of life, improved memory and reflexes, while controlling blood pressure, which can reduce weight gain.  

It goes without saying that exercise is one of those rare habits in life that has no downside.

With that being said, the lack of exercise is a problem with national consequences affecting the country’s reputation as one of the world’s healthiest nations. It is reported that more than half of American adults lack sufficient exercise, and one fourth of the population is sedentary.

There is a mistaken notion that exercise consumes too much time, and in this fast-paced world we live in these days, there never seem to be enough hours to accomplish our daily tasks. On the other hand, it could be said that we cannot afford to not initiate an exercise program.

Exercise has been described as equal in importance to eating, sleeping, and breathing; so this is one habit that is best treated as a non-negotiable part of living. Perhaps, putting an exercise schedule in the appointment book ranks right up there with important business appointments.

Actually walking the stairs at work or home might be a good start to an exercise program.

Whatever approaches you may take; starting slowly is recommended and be prepared to increase to a higher level of intensity as time goes on.

Age should not be considered a barrier to exercise as workouts provide enormous benefits to the human body. Exercise for anyone over the age of 40 is considered especially important because it comes at a time when physical strength and stamina begin declining. An exercise program can counteract many of the effects of aging.

For those hearty souls who choose to brave the elements for working out in frigid temperatures, there may be significant benefits.

During cold weather, outdoor exercise burns substantially more calories in that the body is working harder, which has the effect of increasing one’s metabolism.

Cold weather may strengthen one’s heart, lungs and circulatory system, and being in the sunlight helps keep the mind sharp and boosts the production of endorphins, which elevate the mood and may give a person a more content outlook on life.

An exercise guru labels exercise during cold weather as invigorating, exciting and energizing, which may even produce a rosy glow to one’s cheeks.


Laura McDonald, a national exercise writer, penned a list of tips for outdoor exercise during frigid temperatures.

McDonald’s tips include:

--Make certain you hydrate before, during and after a workout.

--Wear layers that you can peel off as necessary.

--Wear a hat and gloves. Fifty percent of your body heat is lost if you leave your head uncovered.

--Adequately insulate your extremities. The face, fingers, and toes are the first to get frostbitten. Pain or tingling in your ears, fingers, and toes is usually a sign it’s time to go indoors and warm up.

--Beware of icy conditions.


On the other hand, exercising in cold weather is strongly discouraged for those suffering the effects of Asthma, exercise-induced bronchitis, heart condition, and Reynaud’s disease: a condition that limits blood circulation to certain areas of the body.

The risk for health issues increases dramatically when the combined temperature and wind chill falls lower than 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

We have much to look forward to in 2016, and a New Year’s resolution of regular exercise could produce positive benefits that will last a lifetime.

Speaking for the Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System family, we wish you a joyous and healthy new year.