The 2-Minute Checkup: Winter Woes

Steve Mason

We’re heading into the coldest part of the year. How do I keep my exercise momentum when all I want to do is sit around and inhale hot mocha?

Brrr! Cold weather often puts a damper on the fitness plans of even the best of us—but it doesn’t have to. The good news is that your metabolism may actually increase slightly with the cold weather because the body has to work harder to maintain its core temperature. Take advantage of your revved- up metabolism by setting short-term workout goals, find challenging but feasible exercises to do each week. 

There are plenty of exercises you can do right in your own home. One great example is burpees, which strengthens a number of muscle groups while improving endurance. 

To perform this exercise, you begin in a squat position with your hands on the floor in front of you; kick your feet back into a push-up position; immediately return to the squat position. Then leap up as high as you can from the squat position before you repeat the whole sequence. (Do an Internet search on burpees and its variations, and ask your doctor if the exercise is safe for you.) By the end of the cold season, you may be surprised at the result. And by the way, you can still enjoy your mocha; just drink the sugar-free version.

I’ve been hearing about some new technologies in laser hair removal that make it more effective for Black skin. What is the best method for our skin, and is it safe?

Melanin, the pigment that helps protect darker skin against harmful UV rays, can actually make laser hair removal more complex. Lasers target hair by using special light to destroy melanin within the hair shaft. The problem is that in darker complexions the melanin in the upper layer of the skin, called the epidermis, can also be targeted, causing serious skin dam- age in the process. The technology for treating darker skin has advanced, and special lasers can now distinguish between the melanin in the hair shaft and that of the skin.

There’s also no one-laser-treatment-fits-all approach to hair removal: Several factors, such as complexion, determine the best method and the outcome. Find a doctor who has experience with darker complexions, and review all the options for hair removal and its associated risks. This is the best way to make an informed decision.

Dave Montgomery, M.D., Ph.D., is a board-certified physician and EBONY's Special Contributing Health Editor. You can find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter: @DMontgomeryMD. Send your health questions to drdave@ebony.com