Winter Wellness: Staying Active During the Colder Months

 

Two people cross-country skiing
Skiing Image from TheSource from Pixabay

By Megan Ng

With the thermostat beginning to drop to frigid temperatures, it is easy to want to stay inside and huddle up under some blankets. Although the motivation to get up and move is a little harder to come by this season, staying active can help ward off the winter blues and maintain good lifestyle habits. 

In the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, gym memberships and gym access may be daunting, risky, or not a priority for many of us. With that being said, going to the gym is not the only way to stay active. 

Find a Frosty Friend!

Getting discouraged and unmotivated is a lot harder when you have someone keeping you accountable. Having a workout buddy to brave the workouts and icy weather with you can also provide some social support and connection during these more isolating times. This cold weather is also the perfect opportunity to try some fun winter activities like ice skating or cross-country skiing. Likewise, involve your family in some active winter activities. Go sledding or have a snowball fight with the kids or train for a holiday-themed fun run with relatives.

Workout From Home! 

There is a myriad of amazing follow-along workout videos available from which to choose. Workout videos are great if you are limited on equipment and want to stay in the comfort of your home or if the weather is less than accommodating. Are you looking for something a little more relaxing and low intensity? Search up some yoga or Pilates videos. Need a little pick-me-up to shake off the winter drowsiness? Try a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) video. The possibilities are endless, and these home workouts can be as long or short or as easy or challenging as you want them to be. 

Take it Outside! 

Make sure to check the wind chill and weather conditions before stepping outside and know the signs of hypothermia and frostbite. Be especially mindful about protecting your hands, head, feet, and ears. Layering up and dressing “dry” with moisture-wicking fabrics, not just “warm” like cotton, will significantly aid heat retention and preserve core body temperature. Take advantage of the daylight hours, but if the shorter days make it difficult, make sure to wear reflective and protective clothing. Furthermore, hydration and sunscreen are just as important. The onset of dehydration in the cold tends to be less noticeable, and UV rays are still present even on cloudy days and can reflect off the snow. 

Summary

While going into hibernation may sound like the move this winter, getting in some activity is crucial for well-being. Even as little as 30 minutes a day, five days a week, is known to have positive health benefits. Staying active in the winter months requires some creativity, but the options are limitless. Remember to pay attention to how your body feels when exercising in this weather and adjust accordingly. Refuel your winter workouts with some hot chocolate, and have a safe, happy, and healthy holiday!

 

References
  1. Frostbite and Hypothermia. Red Cross. (2007). Retrieved 29 November 2021, from  https://www.redcross.org/content/dam/redcross/atg/PDF_s/Preparedness___Disaster_Recovery/Disaster_Preparedness/Winter_Storm/Frostbite_and_Hypothermia.pdf.
  2. Move More; Sit Less. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Retrieved 29 November 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm.
  3. Winter fitness: Safety tips for exercising outdoors. Mayo Clinic. (2019). Retrieved 29 November 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/fitness/art-20045626.

Megan Ng is an Undergraduate Student of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

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