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Healthy Cells is a local health magazine with most of the articles written by local professionals. People love to read about healthcare from their local health professionals. Each month includes a wide variety of articles on various topics.
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Exercise in Winter

Humans may not come with instruction manuals, but everyone knows there are some things that simply must be done for optimal health. After all, you probably won’t be surprised to hear anyone tell you how important it is to eat well, get plenty of sleep, and exercise on a regular basis!

What is less-commonly known — or at least less-often considered — is how important these things are for the health of your feet. Following are several ways exercise and foot health go together:


• Improves circulation. A healthy blood flow is essential for ensuring the feet and toes receive the nourishment they need. A regular exercise program helps to promote better circulation, but it can also force the muscles to become more efficient in absorbing oxygen.


• Better flexibility. Many foot and ankle issues arise when connective tissues (ligaments, tendons) are excessively tight and have poor range of motion. An exercise regimen containing proper stretches can keep soft tissues flexible and better equipped to move in a natural manner.


• Manage bodyweight. It’s no big secret that exercise is an important part of losing and maintaining body weight, but not enough people consider what this really means for the lower limbs. Walking is a low-impact activity, but it still applies one-and-a-half times an individual’s body weight on the lower limbs with every step you take. Working out, in conjunction with a sensible diet plan, reduces the amount of physical force loads placed on the feet and ankles. In turn, this reduces the risk of injuries.


• Builds stronger muscles. Muscles obviously play a major role in allowing the human body to move, but they also benefit your lower limb health by helping to absorb some of the physical forces endured by feet and ankles. When muscles are weak, they are unable to do this, which then results in additional stress being absorbed by bone tissue. This can cause stress fractures and other types of overuse injuries.

With cold weather soon to be upon us, many people find it more difficult to exercise. After all, it will be dark in the early morning and dark by 5:00 in the evening, you’ll have to bundle up just to go for a walk or run, riding a bike isn’t usually too pleasant in the cold, and it will be easier to stay inside and hibernate! With the right attitude, a bit of goal setting, having a support system in place, and finding the exercise program that works for you — winter can be the best time to implement or continue an exercise regimen.


While some people are able to exercise at home and stick with it, and others don’t mind bundling up to run or walk outside no matter the weather, people generally have more success if they belong to a facility or enroll in a class. High-impact activities like running or jumping can put you at risk for various foot and ankle injuries. Lower-impact exercises are particularly beneficial for foot health. These include the following activities: 


• Spinning/cycling elevates your heartrate and burns many calories, just like running, but does not place as much stress on your lower limbs.


• Swimming is an entire-body workout. When kicking, you are working the muscles in the lower body, but the entire activity provides remarkable cardiovascular benefits.


Additionally, swimming and aquatic exercises are great for those who suffer from edema (swollen feet).


• Walking might not be the most exciting of all the exercise options, but it is truly an all-star one for the health of your lower limbs. Walking is an ideal way to improve blood flow to (and from) your feet, while at the same time training the muscles to more efficiently absorb oxygen. There are several facilities in town that have an indoor track, and I believe the mall is still open for walkers.


• Yoga is terrific for flexibility, which tends to be overlooked in favor of strength and endurance. Flexibility and range-of-motion, though, are essential for reducing foot and ankle injury risk. Yoga provides these benefits through the various poses held during a session.


• Strength training, using your own body weight or by lifting weights, is another low-impact activity that is an important part of any exercise program for people of all ages. It is recommended that you have a trained professional show you the proper ways to perform these various exercises to avoid injury and get the maximum benefit.

We at Heartland Foot and Ankle understand the pain and frustration associated with foot pain. We offer a wide range of modalities to help combat any issues our patients may have related to the foot and ankle. We have dedicated our practice to make sure our community is happy and healthy.


The holidays are just around the corner, so start now to stave off those holiday pounds and keep your feet in tiptop shape!

For more information on any foot or ankle problem, please contact Dr. Rizvi at Heartland Foot and Ankle Associates, at 309-661-9975 or heartlandfootandankle.com. Their office is located at 10 Heartland Dr. in Bloomington.



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