Less strain, more gain in lethargy battle

By Martin Johnston

Winter sees a rise in those who fight the listlessness - but do too much too soon. Photo / Thinkstock
Winter sees a rise in those who fight the listlessness - but do too much too soon. Photo / Thinkstock

The lethargy and search for comfort often brought on by the long winter months has been named by health experts - "deconditioning", or "inactivity syndrome".

The Chiropractors' Association says that people reaching for the TV remote rather than the gym membership card leads to a rise in conditions associated with winter idleness.

And they also see a rise in those who fight the listlessness - but do too much too soon.

Association spokesman Hayden Thomas said: "They get out of shape. Joints become stiff, muscles become flabby, endurance decreases and some put on excess weight.

"At this time of year we see an increase in people seeking care for conditions brought on by too little activity as well as those who have tried to do too much without enough preparation."

The short days have forced Aucklander Norma Vaz, editor of Shore Beauty & Health, to trim back her exercise.

Normally she goes for several vigorous walks during the week and longer ones at the weekend.

"In winter I leave for work in the morning, it's dark, I get back in the dark. So my whole walking regime, it just goes out the window.

"I find that when I get home I want a hot meal straight away and a glass of red wine seems to go down so much better on a cold winter night. It just feels like - comfort. In winter weekends when I walk, I tend to overdo it a bit because I'm trying to take advantage of the tiny break in the weather."

That can leave her legs feeling sore.

Physiotherapist Graeme Hayhow said wet winter weekends sent many into hibernation, leading to fewer injuries.

But if a wet spell was followed by a weekend window of sunshine, a stream of patients ensued with minor sprains and strains caused by trying to catch up on outdoor exercise.

After a spell without, say, mowing the lawn, the job requires more effort for a body that has lost some conditioning.

"People have just got to realise that if they want to catch up for the last three or four weekends they have got to take things easier," Mr Hayhow said.

- NZ Herald

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