January 2, 2019 0

8 Ways To Stay Active This Winter

Posted by:Dr. Brian Mowll onJanuary 2, 2019

Old Man Winter always seems to have it out for us. What did we ever do to him?

Between temperature changes, barometric pressure changes and humidity level changes, our health and bodies can sure take a beating. And the fact that it is just plain old cold and grey outside, many people want to hibernate all winter. This lack of movement is bad in a number of ways.

The most obvious negative impact of inactivity is that we can gain weight. Not only do we tend to move less during the winter, but most people also eat more starchy, carbohydrate-laden comfort foods. Gone are the salads and fresh fruit of summer, in their place are bowls of pasta and mashed potatoes.

Winter also tends to mess with our mood. A lack of sunlight in the winter can cause many people to feel depressed. This, in turn, causes eating and drinking too much, and getting little physical activity.

And lastly, colder temperatures tend to make our muscles and joint tight. You maybe had a grandparent who would always predict the weather patterns based on joint pain and stiffness. When our joints are painful, we tend to not move as much and what happens? We put on weight over the winter months, making it even harder on our joints.

The truth is, though it may feel counterintuitive to exercise when your joints hurt, exercise is one of the best things you can do for arthritis. Movement helps to lubricate your joints and stop them from stiffening up.

So now that you know winter makes it challenging to be healthy, what can you do about it? Plenty! Here are 8 ways to stay active this winter:

1. Play Outside with Your Children

You know who doesn’t care how cold it is outside? Your kids! They’ll bundle up and go out and play in all kinds off weather. So why don’t you bundle up and join them? Build a snowman, pull them around on sleds, or have a snowball fight. Not only will you get a workout, but you will also strengthen family bonds.

2. Walk Your Dog

You know who else doesn’t care what the weather is outside? Your dog (most dogs, anyway)! He or she wants to be out there all of them time, so why not take them for a walk. Exercise is incredibly important to your dog’s health, so bundle up and hit the trails.

If your dog is a shorthaired breed and temps are below 40 degrees, you should have a dog coat for them that will keep their body heat in. Should temps drop below 25 degrees, that may be too cold on their paw pads, so skip the walks until it warms up a bit.

3. Join a Gym and Actually Go

It’s the New Year, which means at this very moment countless people across the country are joining gyms with the intention of fulfilling their New Year’s resolution of losing weight and getting into the best shape of their lives. But how many of them will actually go to the gym?

A gym membership is a great way to get some exercise when it’s just too cold or stormy outside. Try and find one either close to home or close to work so it is convenient for you to go. And try to get a family member or coworker to go with you so you have even more incentive!

4. Go Ice Skating

I used to love ice skating when I was a kid, but I don’t go nearly as often now, which is nuts. Ice skating isn’t just fun, it’s incredibly great exercise because you are working core muscle groups like your legs, butt and abs. And, depending on how fast and long you skate, it can also be a great cardio workout as well. If you’re not the most confident skater, do yourself a favor and wear knee and wrist guards. Nothing dampens lighthearted festivities faster than a trip to the emergency room.

5. Try Yoga

Yoga is great because it not only keeps you nice and limber, it is also very calming. Studies have also shown that yoga can combat depression. 1 If you tend to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), sometimes called the Winter Blues, yoga may be just the thing to save your mood.

6. Take the Stairs

A great way to get a workout no matter what the weather is doing outside is to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Whether it’s at your apartment complex, your doctor’s medical office building, or your place of employment, take the stairs as often as you can. This will help you raise your heart rate and give your legs and butt a great workout.

7. Mall Walk

No, it’s not just for senior citizens, or at least it shouldn’t be. Walking at the mall can be really fun and a great workout, provided you go at the right time of day. First, there is almost a natural track around and around. There is always lively music playing and plenty of interesting things to look at. Go when it is not busy, usually weekday mornings or early afternoons, and do not give into your desire to stop at the Mrs. Field’s cookie counter after each lap!

8. Exercise at Home

Many people think you can’t get a good workout at home unless you turn your basement into an at-home gym. But you don’t have to have a lot of space or spend a lot of money on equipment to get a good workout.

You can do a quick 15-minute HIIT kettlebell workout and burn as many calories as running on a treadmill for an hour. It doesn’t require much space and kettlebells are very affordable.

There are many exercise bikes on the market that are around $200 and won’t take up much space. And I know people who have fold-away trampolines that are fun to use and offer tremendous health benefits.

Final Thoughts

It’s really easy to make excuses when it’s cold out. But your health is far too important to give into these excuses. You’ve just read 8 ways you can stay active this winter. Stay on track and keep your body moving, even when it’s storming out. Not only will you improve your health, but when everyone else is panicking because they can’t fit into their bathing suits, you’ll be feeling good with a slimmer waist and better blood sugar.

Resources:

[1] Woodyard C. (2011). Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life. International journal of yoga, 4(2), 49-54.

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