How can we remain physically active during the winter months?

There are many options to stay physically active during the winter months.

Two people running on a path in the snow.

When the snow starts flying, many of us tend to become less physically active because the outdoors does not appear to be as conducive for it. We know the many benefits of exercise, but did you know that exercising outside can also help boost our vitamin D levels, which usually decrease during winter? This is important as vitamin D may be associated with numerous health benefits. There are many techniques you can implement while eating during the holiday season, but being physically active throughout is also important. Colder, winter weather doesn’t mean you have to decrease your level of physical activity.

How to modify your favorite summer outdoor activities and try some new ones

Even though it is wintertime, we can still resume some of our summer activities and perhaps add a few more. Although it can be difficult to play basketball or tennis outside, chances are you may have an indoor facility nearby that has these options available, and may only require a membership. The downside of these practices is that you may have to travel a bit, but you probably have friends or family members who also want to minimize the winter blues and get out and do something too. This could also help increase your own motivation to partake in these activities. Regarding memberships to health clubs and gyms, this could also be a time to join so that you can perform resistance training or cardiovascular exercise, if you currently are not a member.

Wintertime is also a time to adopt and enjoy new ways to be physically active. Taking up cross-country skiing or snowshoeing are great options, but you could also try ice skating, or still perform some of your favorite summer outdoor activities. Trail riding on bikes in the snow has become quite popular in recent years. If you regularly hike in the summer or even walk with friends, you can still resume these in the winter time. Lastly, although not particularly enjoyable for most, shoveling snow can be a great way to exercise and burn calories.

What to do if the weather is not cooperating

As we know, snow storms and extreme wind chills can be dangerous and therefore can be impairments to physical activity away from home or outdoors. What can you do? Perform at-home workouts, which could also be completed all year long. You do not need a full home gym to do so, although having something as simple as a treadmill or some dumbbells can be helpful. This could be as simple as finding a circuit workout online, or following along with an aerobics video. Lastly, missing a workout here and there is not necessarily a bad thing. Always use your best judgment before venturing outdoors to complete a workout.

Although it is winter, we do not have to become more sedentary and less physically active. We can make simple modifications such as performing some outdoor activities inside, or still perform some of your favorite summer outdoor activities outside. As with any physical activity, be sure to check with your primary care practitioner to see if you can participate in the aforementioned activities. Lastly, dress for the weather and be sure to hydrate. You may not be sweating as much while outside, but you will still lose water through respiration.

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