Winter in Muskoka is in full swing in a year without many of our beloved winter activities like downhill skiing and hockey. Combining this with working from home and limited visiting and out-of-house excursions, many of us are going days without fresh air and exercise.
It’s so easy to look outside and allow the cold, snowy elements to convince the mind that it’s probably best to stay inside where its warm, safe and comfortable. But like most things that are hard to convince yourself of, there is a lot to be gained from exercising in the tough conditions.
Winter in Muskoka is full of pristine beauty and is well worth pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones to experience.
Here are some tips and tricks to help embrace the beauty of winter in Muskoka, get outside, get fit, stay healthy and maintain motivation through the tough winter months.
Pick an activity that you are comfortable with doing
We have so many options for activity in winter that can be suitable for all ages, fitness levels, and time commitments. It can be as simple as going for a walk around the block, or driving out and hiking your favourite trail. Choose between (or try all different activities) walking, hiking, running, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, fat biking, go to your neighbourhood sliding hill, or any other form of activity that our area has to offer.
Having a good trail running shoe if you are running/jogging and a hiking shoe/boot if you are walking is a great idea. This type of footwear has better grip and softer rubber for gripping the snow – much like the snow tires you put on your vehicle all winter.
If the conditions look icy, there are many products that can be easily slipped over the bottom of your shoe and allow you to walk on spikes which will give great grip even on the iciest terrain.
Take advantage of the colder, sunnier days
If you dress properly, these can be the most enjoyable days to be outside for a run, walk, hike, or snowshoe.
Enjoy a new podcast or listen to your favourite music playlist
Although in the winter it can be great to enjoy how peacefully quiet it can be and listen to the crunch of the snow under your shoe with every footstep, once in a while a good music playlist or getting into a new podcast can help pass the time and keep you motivated. Pairing an activity we enjoy such as listening to music with an activity we are struggling to motivate ourselves can do can be a great way to form new healthy routines and habits.
Appreciate the beauty
It can be so easy to focus on the tough footing, cold fingers, or how you could have stayed inside and had a second cup of hot coffee, but shifting focus to the positive is essential to keep yourself motivated.
It’s called ‘Winter Wonderland’ for a reason, wherever you decide to get outside and exercise, soak it in, find the beauty around you. If the sun is out, watch for the perfect angles that the sun glistens from the snow on the trees, listen for streams and rushing water that may be hidden under the snow, or watch for signs of wildlife and imagine what path they were following when you spot some footprints.
Try an evening or nighttime adventure
One of my favourite times to get out on a winter trail for a walk, hike, or run is go when its dark. Use a headlamp and light up the trail ahead of you.
It’s amazing how bright the trail will get from the reflection of a headlamp. Its quiet, crisp, and the best part is, you can stop anytime and look up at the amazing stars in the Muskoka sky.
The five minute rule for motivation
If you have been wanting to get outside and realize the benefits this might have on you physical and emotional health but are struggling to take the first steps, try the five minute trick. We know that getting started and getting out the door for some exercise is often the hardest part. On days where I am feeling low motivation I tell myself, “You can run for five minutes and if you want to turn around after that you can.” To this day I have not turned around. Go ahead and try this trick yourself.
Dr. Barber is a certified Chiropractor (CMCC), Contemporary Medical Acupuncturist and a Strength and Conditioning Specialist. After graduating in 2006 from McMaster University with a Bachelor Degree in Kinesiology and a minor degree in Neuroscience, he attended the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College and graduated in 2010 with clinical honours.
Using an evidence-based approach, he helps patients with a wide variety of conditions and disorders relating to the skeletal, nervous and muscular systems. He believes firmly in treating the source of the problem rather than the symptoms alone.
Dr. Barber takes pride in utilizing his diverse skill set and knowledge in order to create individualized treatment plans that allow his patients to meet their health and active living goals.
Treatment plans are unique to each patient and may include chiropractic therapy, acupuncture, shockwave therapy, advanced soft tissue techniques and functional range release and conditioning.