Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont’s Snow Days a Healthy Success
Berlin, VT, March 8, 2021—Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont’s Snow Days was a healthy success. The event, which ran from February 13 to February 28, encouraged members to submit a photo of themselves staying fit outside this year rather than coming together at an in-person event as in past years. The results were inspiring. Members were outside snowshoeing, sledding, cross-country skiing, and cruising down snow-covered trails on fat-tire bikes. Jennifer O’Neill of Jeffersonville, Vermont was chosen at random from all of the Snow Days participants to win a new Nordic gear package.
When Dr. John Koutras, a professor with the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont and a practicing child and adolescent psychiatrist, thinks about exercise, he doesn’t picture the sweating that improves our physical strength and performance. He goes right to brain health. “Exercise leads to neurobiological health,” he said at a recent talk hosted by the Howard Center and sponsored by Blue Cross. “Mood is linked to higher amounts of serotonin, nerve growth, and the good kind of hormones. All of these releases allow for neurogenesis to occur.”
In case you are wondering, neurogenesis is a good thing. Exercise has been shown to reduce stress levels and lead to brain plasticity through the growth of new neurons. A 2019 study published in the Frontiers in Neuroscience shows that this remapping of the brain leads to an increase in cognitive function. People who have regular levels of intense exercise tend to have higher brain function as they age.
Breathing fresh air, getting out of the house, and getting the blood moving through your body can make all the difference in your outlook on the world. A few ways to integrate exercise into your life this winter:
- Walk instead of drive whenever possible.
- Make a routine of waking up 45 minutes earlier each day and getting right out for a walk or run—before you drink your coffee, before you get pulled into your phone, just get outside and walk before starting your day.
- Push yourself a little harder: when walking, walk more vigorously; when running, intersperse your jog with sprints to get your heart rate up.
- Don’t let not having the right equipment be a barrier to exercise. Call your local outdoor gear store and rent a cross country ski package for the weekend. You might be surprised how fun it is!
- Take a hike! Winter hikes can be stunning with their panoramic views, but be sure to stick to the trails. Dress in layers to account for coldest forecasted temps of the day, pack food, water, and a flashlight, and consider how early the sun sets when planning your adventure.
- Go sledding. Grab a sled at your local hardware store and take to the hill. Hiking up is fantastic exercise and sledding down is exhilarating fun for all ages.
Blue Cross has been sponsoring Snow Days events annually since 2010 to encourage our members to stay active during the winter months. Removing barriers to winter activities by providing equipment, passes, lessons and a designated day to participate can encourage people to try an outdoor activity and reap the benefits. Our prize, a Nordic equipment package for one lucky participant, is intended to encourage the winner to continue exercising outside all season long.
We know how long a Vermont winter can be, and helping people get outside skiing, sledding, skating, snowshoeing, hiking, and making the most of what our state has to offer is important to everyone’s health and wellbeing.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is Vermont’s only local, not-for-profit health plan. For over 70 years, the company has been enhancing the health and well-being of the Vermonters by offering innovative plans to individuals, seniors and businesses. Our employees are dedicated to developing new ways to support high quality care and programs and events that promote wellness. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit www.bcbsvt.com.
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