Staying Safe and Active in Winter

Burrrrrrrr! It’s cold out there. It is true; “Old Man Winter” has landed on the doorstep, but use his arrival to your advantage; shake up the old workout routine with something new and fun!

I will admit – I am NOT a fan of outdoor activities. I am not a skier – such an activity accentuates all of my weaknesses and highlights none of my strengths. For me – I’ll stick to running, Yoga, Pilates, and weight training. While outdoor exercise in the winter isn’t my style or preference, you may find it’s the best option for you. If you like winter and don’t mind traversing snowy roads, but have not considered exercising in the great outdoors, try some of these winter activities.

Although winter time presents a certain set of challenges (icy roads, slippery sidewalks, frosty temperatures), it is also a window of opportunity to find new motivation and explore the outdoors.  Winter has an impact on all of us – moods change, eating habits change, sleeping patterns change, and there is a tendency to pack away the workout gear with the summer shorts and gardening tools.  Additionally, there is often the feeling that we must be confined to a treadmill or other indoor apparatus to remain active, healthy, and safe. This winter, let’s ditch the idea of becoming a hamster in a wheel! Below are some ideas that to try with family and friends to help break the rhythm of winter and avoid the hibernation syndrome.

Adventures in Winter Exercising 

  • Snow Shoeing- take advantage of the beautiful surroundings and explore nature in winter.
  • Cross Country Skiing – believe it or not, this is hard work!
  • Ice Skating – a great activity for the whole family or a fun date night.
  • Ice Fishing – a good way to challenge your fishing skills
  • Sledding – find a hill or popular sledding area and just have some fun!
  • Walking – invest in a pair of “Yaktrax”. These great inventions strap to the soles of shoes to improve grip and stability on icy or snow packed streets and sidewalks. These are found at many sporting goods and outdoor clothing stores. Check your local options.
  • Winter Wonderland Photography – winter is a beautiful time of year. Use this time to capture unique photo opportunities.

Safety Tips

Trying one or more of these activities is a good way to shake off the cold, put a fresh spin on the season, and create some fun family time, but remember, as with all activity, there are safety considerations and tips to think about before planning an outdoor adventure.

  • Sunscreen – although it is winter and it is cold, overexposure from the sun still poses a threat. Remember to wear sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays (SPF 15 or higher). Use lip balm and sunglasses as well!
  • Stay Hydrated – hydration needs don’t necessarily change just because the temperatures are colder. Remember to drink plenty of water before, during, and after activity.
  • Appropriate Clothing – activity, even in cold weather, generates a lot of body heat. Dressing in layers that can easily be removed is best. Instead of cotton for the first layer, use a synthetic material that draws the sweat away from the body.
  • Avoid Frostbite and Hypothermia – frostbite and hypothermia can quickly occur in colder temperatures. Know the signs of trouble and seek help immediately. To avoid this, pay attention to the wind chill, dress appropriately, and warm the hands and feet often. Scarves and face masks work well to protect the face.
  • Phone a Friend – if venturing out alone be sure to let someone know your route and when to expect you back. This is a critical factor in safe winter activity. The weather can quickly change and present unsafe conditions.

For further details on these tips and more, visit http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fitness/HQ01681.

Winter is the season for snow, but it is also a great time to start a new journey and enjoy some good heart-healthy fun. Enjoy this time!

 

 

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Author: Erin Nitschke

Passionate wife, mother, college educator, writer, blogger, and health and fitness professional.

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