Staying active in the winter can be tricky for those of us living in the cold-weather states. Not only are the days shorter, but also finding the motivation to surrender our blankets can prove to be challenging. Maintaining a regular exercise routine can help ward off colds and boost the immune system, making wintertime activity even more important.
No need to drop the outdoor exercise routine
Just because the temperature has dropped, it doesn’t mean we have to stay indoors. A study from the University of Tampere in Finland found that working out in nature leads to greater emotional well-being and better sleep than exercising indoors, which is no less true in winter than in spring, summer or fall. Additionally, the body works harder to regulate the core temperature, meaning you can burn a few more calories during your wintry workout compared to remaining indoors.
There is a particular thrill that can come from exercising in harsher conditions. Cold is a great purifying force; it makes you feel tough. Cold-weather exercise also has the ability to boost one’s mood. The amount of endorphins produced increases as the body heightens its efforts to stay warm, leaving us feeling lighter following a workout in the cold.
You don’t have to be a runner to exercise outdoors in the cold. Choose something you enjoy or try a new activity. Lace up your skates, strap on snowshoes, or clip into some skis. These whole body exercises use overlooked muscle groups and challenge our proprioception to increase functional strength, balance and stability.
Warm up inside first by doing five to ten minutes of low level aerobic exercise such as jogging in place or jumping jacks. Safety is a priority for exercising in the winter. Wear bright colors for visibility, dress in layers, and stay hydrated.
Write down three reasons why you might want to exercise this winter. Think of a goal that involves a concrete accomplishment. Happy trails!