Iwas perusing the literature just the other day when I came across a term that was new to me. Intermittent claudication is a condition whereby an individual experiences cramping and discomfort in the legs.
You may have known that already. I didn't. Usually experienced in the calf muscle, it is often associated with such villains of the peace as smoking, hypertension and diabetes.
The subject of circulation struck a chord because it was last week that the oncoming prospect of winter became real, with the first frost of autumn and for me, the dull thud of exploding hydrocarbons as the boiler came to life.
The housemartins had gone, leaving nothing but memories and a few pounds of guano, and for the first time since April, my feet were cold.
I'm a martyr to cold feet, and as any fellow sufferer knows, there is only one cure. Once they're cold, no sock, or external source of heat short of naked flame can warm them. Only movement does the job. And when your life is spent predominantly at a desk, cold feet are a constant companion.
As we know, the Romans took one look at Ireland and were moved to name it winter, which considering they never even got as far as Portlaoise is quite a put-down. And it has been remarked that like many northern Europeans, we have something of the dismal season in our collective blood.
But now we have cappucino, sun-dried tomatoes and Gore-Tex; we have the option of ignoring winter, or at least alleviating the worst of it.
And in any case, nobody knows any longer whether winter is a season of temperate clemency or bitter extremity. The only thing you can be sure of is that the days will be short and the TV lousy.
Intermittent claudication is caused by poor blood circulation in the legs. The condition is usually temporary and can be improved with slowly increased daily walking, which is great.
Walking, in fact, is the answer to most of winter's problems; even the lousy TV if you walk in the dark. But it's the scavenging of whatever daylight is available that really makes the difference.
Not only for the vitamin D, but as the antidote to that cave-dwellling instinct we seem to carry; the impulse to hibernate, play team sports and, of course, drink.
My strictly non-medical answer to intermittent claudication, and to any of its chums that might attempt to darken our lives in the quite-difficult-enough-already-thanks days ahead, is what I'll call hibernal mitigation, or HM.
It involves a lot of walking – and not much else, to be honest.
It's not a radical approach; after all, playing team sports and drinking aren't all bad, so HM can be practised at whatever level of commitment you're comfortable with.
By walking through autumn and winter, you'll see the best of what the Romans clearly missed; a country and a climate to be enjoyed more than endured.
You'll arrive at spring in better shape than you left it and there's every chance that you won't know any more about intermittent claudication than what I've just told you.
Conor O'Hagan is editor of the bi-monthly Walking World Ireland magazine. www.walkingworldireland.com