It’s getting to be that time of year when many of us find it more difficult to stay motivated to exercise. We go into ‘hibernation mode’ so to speak. The days are shorter, the weather is colder, and staying inside with a cup of hot chocolate seems much more enjoyable than braving the cold to go for that run, or even just to make that trip to the gym. But winter in Canada is not known to be short, and if we use the cold weather as an excuse to avoid exercising, we’re doing ourselves a major disservice.
Staying active in the winter boosts immunity by keeping the lymphatic system active. It can also help prevent weight gain, which is especially important as the holiday eating and drinking season approaches. Exercising also keeps our muscles, bones and joints healthy, and helps prevent aches and pains associated with sedentary behaviour. Not only does exercise help optimize physical health, it can help beat the winter blues, lift mood, and even promote productivity by enhancing concentration.
Even with all the evidence in favour of exercising throughout the year, there is no denying that exercising in the winter poses some challenges and requires a bit of planning. Here are some ideas to help keep you on track with your fitness and health goals this winter season:
The Great Outdoors
- Take up a winter sport. There are many options including skating, hockey, downhill or cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and snow-showing to name a few. If you are new to a particular sport, try taking a lesson or two to build your confidence and make it more enjoyable.
- Play in the snow! Take a cue from the kids and build a snowman or make some snow-angels. Get a group of friends together to go tobogganing, or start a snowball fight. You might be surprised how much fun these can be.
- If you enjoy running, winter is no time to stop. Just make sure you have the appropriate gear to maintain your body temperature within a safe range, and wear appropriate footwear so you don’t slip and fall.
- Bundle up and go for a walk. This can be a great way to get some exercise during your lunch hour, and you’ll also benefit from some vitamin D during the decreased daylight hours. A post-dinner walk with family or with the dog is also a nice way to unwind after a long day.
- Shovel snow. Check out our blog on smart shovelling to protect your back. (PLEASE INSERT LINK TO SHOVELLING BLOG POST) This can be a great workout!
- Join a gym or health club. If you are new to this setting, try starting with some group exercise classes or do a few sessions with a personal trainer to get comfortable.
- Swim laps at your local pool or community centre.
- Join a sports league. Many communities offer a variety of sports such as basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer and dance to name a few.
- Take a yoga class. Hot yoga might even be appealing in the sub-zero temperature weather. Join us at Rebalance Sports Medicine for free yoga classes from 6:00-7:00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays through November and December. We just ask that you bring a your own mat and non-perishable food item that will be donated to the food bank. Make sure to sign up in advance to secure your spot!
- Exercise at home. There are so many options for home workouts using just your own body weight. You can get some ideas from exercise DVDs, or there are free online options as well. Even just turning on some music and having your own dance party for one can be a fun way to break a sweat.
- Clean your house. Talk about multi-tasking! Mopping floors, vacuuming, and scrubbing the bathtub are all physical activities and you can feel extra-accomplished after cleaning the house knowing that you also got some good exercise.
These are just some ideas. I’m sure you can come up with even more if you put your mind to it. The little bit of effort it takes to stay active during the winter months will be well worth it for your health. You might even discover that the winter can actually be quite enjoyable if you embrace it!
Don’t let pain or injuries stop you from staying active this winter. Contact us to book in with one of our skilled physiotherapists, massage therapists or chiropractors to help you reach your highest physical potential so that you can keep moving this season.
Written By: Reanna Montopoli, FCAMPT Physiotherapist