Happy Holidays to everyone and welcome to winter; a season for spending time with friends and family, hibernating indoors, eating yummy food, and bracing ourselves for the cold winter weather ahead. While you may shiver and reach for your coziest winter woolies, the cold, snow and ice shouldn’t put a halt to your physical activity.
There are many benefits to staying active in the winter, or being active in general, such as boosting your immunity, keeping the lymphatic system active, and preventing you from getting sick. Winter fitness specifically can also prevent weight gain that can occur from inactivity and holiday eating and drinking, as well as the aches and pains that parallel sedentary behaviours.
There are many ways to stay active in the cold winter weather:
Walking is an easy activity for all fitness levels and an effective cardiovascular workout. If gearing up for the ice and cold isn’t your style, you can always walk indoors at the local mall or track at the summit centre. Regardless of where you choose to walk, make sure you warm up properly by doing some simple stretches and by walking at a slower pace for the first 5 to 10 minutes of your walking routine.
- Get out on the slopes
Winter is the perfect time to get involved in outdoor sports such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or downhill sports (ski, snowboard, telemarking). It’s not only fun to do with friends and family but also great cardio.
- Indoor Gym
If the cold outdoors isn’t for you, spend more time at one of your local gyms. You can also keep things interesting by mixing up your regular routine by trying new activities such as kickboxing, spin, or a HIIT (high intensity interval training) class.
- Home Workouts
If you’re not into the gym scene or if the weather outside is frightful, put on an exercise DVD or checkout youtube for great indoor workouts (we particularly like POPSUGAR fitness on youtube).
- Restorative Activities
If you’re feeling a bit sluggish and don’t feel like doing an intense workout, no worries, opt for gentle or restorative activities such as yoga, tai-chi, and/or pilates. Although less intense, these activities still help build strength and stamina, promote flexibility, and help you relax.
- Household Chores
Even though I personally would rather do any of the above over this, you can always clean your house. An hour of housework burns approximately 200calories; as an added bonus you can be ahead on your spring cleaning and get back outside ASAP when the warm weather returns.
It is important to keep in mind that winter can be an excellent time to enjoy staying active by participating in outdoor activities, but it can also place extra demands on your system. Weather conditions, including temperatures, during the winter can change drastically so it is important to be well prepared to enjoy and reap the most benefits of your chosen activity. A few important facts on dressing and preparing for winter workouts:
- Dress in layers. Try to wear fabrics that “wick” moisture away from your body to help keep you warm and dry. Top off the layers with a lightweight, breathable, windproof jacket.
- Cover your head. Wear a hat to minimize heat loss from the head and neck. About 50% of your total heat loss is through the head and neck.
- Protect your hands with moisture wicking mittens/gloves.
- Extend your warm-up. Slowly warm-up to increase your heart rate and circulation; this will decrease your risk of injury, improve your flexibility and allow for better performance.
- Drink water! Because of the cold temperatures it is harder to gauge how much sweat you are losing, making it easier to get dehydrated.
Staying active during the winter months can not only make winter more bearable but can also help to maintain or even improve your physical and emotional health. For the greatest health benefits try to perform 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise three (or more) times per week plus strengthening activities and stretching twice a week.
Have a safe and happy holidays and an enjoyable winter season!
For more information or to book an appointment call 705-380-3312 or visit the website . Surge Physiotherapy is located at 33 King William Street, Suite 204, in Huntsville. Office hours are flexible with evening appointments available (3x/week). Email – [email protected]
Stephanie is a bilingual, Registered Physiotherapist with the College of Physiotherapist of Ontario and the Canadian Physiotherapy Association who is committed to providing a hands on, personalized approach to physiotherapy.
Stephanie, a native to the Huntsville community, developed a passion for health and wellness during her youth while competing in cross-country running, nordic skiing, and track and field. Stephanie has always had a strong caring nature and fell in love with the physiotherapy profession while volunteering at a physiotherapy clinic during high school and university.
Stephanie continued to build on her passion for health care by attending McGill University and completing her Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology. During her Masters in Health Science of Physiotherapy, completed at the University of Ottawa, she completed internships in orthopaedic clinics, hospitals, home care, and neurology centres.