There are a number of post 50s out there who put younger bodies to shame with their chiseled physiques and youthful features. Guinness World Record holder Ernestine Shepherd lifted her way to fitness, as did bodybuilder Jim Morris. And former marathoner Mark Sisson credited exercise and a gluten-free diet for his rippling abs.
But we haven't met anyone who goes to quite the same lengths as Gao Yinyu does to stay fit. The 77-year-old retired teacher from chilly northeastern China has maintained an exercise routine that isn't for snowbirds or other warm-weather lovers: He jogs and does a series of gymnastic feats on parallel bars before taking a dip in a lake -- all in -25˚Celsius weather (we'll save you the Google search -- that's -13˚ Fahrenheit). Did we mention most of his work out is done in his underwear?
He's been doing this routine for 10 years, and, according to reports, has never caught a cold.
Our hats (and gloves, and scarves) are off to you, sir! Feel inspired by Gao's workout commitment? It's good to know a few things about exercising in the cold before you begin your own workout.
- When you exercise, your body works to keep your temperature at an even 98.6˚ F, wrote Laura Schwecherl of the healthy living website Greatist. But help your body out by dressing in layers. The Mayo Clinic suggests a three-layer solution: a light base that can wick away moisture from your body, then a layer of fleece or wool for insulation, followed by "a waterproof, breathable outer layer."
- Protecting your feet, hands and ears is important as well, as blood flows to your core and away from your extremities when you work out. This helps with that warm feeling exercising in the cold can inspire, but also leaves you at risk for frostbite, wrote Schwecherl of Greatist.
- Avoid exercising in the snow, rain or in high winds, Schwecherl advised. "The body has a hard time managing its temperature when wet; water draws heat away from the body 25 times faster than air because of its higher density and heat capacity," she wrote. "Strong winds can also be dangerous, pushing air and moisture through our clothes and removing the layer of warm air that surrounds the body."
- Staying hydrated is just as important in cold weather as it is in the heat. "Drink water or sports drinks before, during and after your workout, even if you're not really thirsty," the Mayo Clinic advised. "You can become just as dehydrated in the cold as in the heat from sweating, breathing and increased urine production, but it may be harder to notice during cold weather."
These tips are just the beginning. Make sure you also check in with your doctor for advice on how to exercise in cold weather -- especially if you have asthma or heart problems.