From the first hint of morning frost on the ground to the long, dark days of deep snow and ice of late winter, there’s nothing our bodies would rather do than bundle up with a warm beverage, an even warmer blanket, and tell ourselves that it’s okay to go into hibernation for a couple months.
It can’t be that bad, right? Bears do it, and look how strong they are. Come to think of it, hibernating in the winter is practically natural.
And yet, it’s really not. The further we sink into winter doldrums the harder it is to claw our way back out.
To that end, we propose the anti-hibernation theory – some simple tips and tricks to stay active during the winter months. (You can still make time to enjoy the warm blanket and beverage, as long as you still got your activity done for the day.)
Make an Action Plan
Your worst enemy for winter activity is the thought: “It’s a little too cold today, but I’ll do something tomorrow no matter what.
Take the time to write down a plan for daily activity. Treat it like a real, set appointment. This means putting it on a calendar and having your phone send reminders. Do whatever it takes to make physical activity a real priority for the winter.
Get Involved with Winter Sports
Ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, and even sledding are activities that you can usually only do in the winter, so you might as well take this opportunity to mix up your normal routines and expand your repertoire of recreational activities.
If you’ve never gone cross-country skiing before, that’s a new kind of workout you’re not going to forget anytime soon. Same with snowshoeing. There are a lot of seasonal opportunities, so take advantage of them while you can.
Go Indoors for Your Workout
Indoor pools, health clubs, and rec centers offer a lot of great options. You can join a team or sign up for some recreational basketball, tennis, or racquetball. You can enjoy a swim a couple times a week or even take some yoga classes. (That last one even has special classes that are all about doing workouts in excessively hot rooms. So, if you’re looking for a way to stay warm…)
Go for a Walk
Yes, it’s cold outside, but if you’re dressed in layers, you can still take a quick, 30-minute walk without freezing. And, just 30 minutes of activity a day can really help you feel more energized and refreshed. It may not seem like much, but even a short walk every day can help you stay fit and healthy throughout the cold months.
Try “Stealth” Exercises
You can get a lot of exercise without anyone ever knowing that’s what you’re doing. Walk the mall. Vacuum the floor. Shovel the snow. Rearrange the furniture. Play with the kids. There are countless ways to sneak in some exercise that others may not even recognize as exercise.
Whether you’re taking a few extra trips up and down your stairs or using the longer nights to go dancing at more clubs, if you’re staying active, it counts as exercise.
A lot of us have bought a piece of workout equipment thinking: if I have this at home, I’ll totally work out every day. These things usually collect more dust than they burn calories. Then, there are those of us who see those happy, active people on the front cover of a DVD and think: they seem to be having fun and I want to be like that. These DVDs usually get buried somewhere in the back of a closet.
The winter is the perfect time to dust them off and put those investments to good use.
Revel in Your Victories
Let yourself enjoy the fact that you just conquered the weather. You’ve stepped up and faced the challenge. You’ve fought the cold and came back victorious. This deserves a victory dance (which is another great way to stay active). As you start to rack up these wins, you’ll start to crave the challenge. The snow won’t be a deterrent anymore. It will be an invitation!
Be Safe and Healthy
The cold air can be more than a motivational impediment for many people. The winter air can make it difficult for some to breath and even trigger chest pains. As with any workout, always check with your doctor to properly address any medical concerns.
Winter Is Coming, but It Won’t Last Forever
Winter can naturally bring people down, and the shorter and longer nights contribute to darker moods. Regular workouts, however, can help improve your mood, increase energy levels, and even help you sleep through those cold nights better. There is even some research that suggests staying active may strengthen your immune system too, which means avoiding the traditional colds and coughs.
There may be a serious temptation to shut down and hibernate through the long winter, but by finding ways to stay active you can make these cold months a little more enjoyable. More importantly, you’ll come out the other side of it energized and ready to conquer spring, too.