Staying physically active during the winter months can be difficult for many Canadians. In cold places like Winnipeg, it’s hard to find the motivation to work out when outside temperatures can be well below freezing. However, physical activity is incredibly important for your health. As the winter chill begins to creep up on us, it’s important to remember to take care of ourselves.
Why do we need to stay active?
Most of us have an understanding that exercise is good for us, but the benefits cannot be stressed enough. According to Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living, physical activity increases energy levels, helps us handle stress better and strengthens the heart and lungs. Exercise also prevents excess weight gain, combats many health conditions and diseases, and promotes better sleep. The result? A better quality of life for people of all ages. If you’re struggling to find the motivation to keep your body moving this winter, we’ve put together some tips to help you out!
1. Wear the right clothes
You may be tempted to stay in your warm bed on dark winter days but exercising in the cold doesn’t have to be scary! According to Lindsay Somers, lifestyle health coach, just wearing the right clothes is enough to help you feel comfortable outside. The key to staying warm and dry when exercising in cold weather is putting on layers. Strong winds and damp conditions, such as rain or snow, steal your body heat. However, having layers of clothing can help lock in heat and form insulation against the harsh elements! Avoid fabrics that trap moisture, such as cotton, as these will make you feel colder (and heavier). For your first layer, you steer towards something that pulls moisture from your skin, such as water-proof sportswear. Next, add a layer of fleece, and top it off with another waterproof layer. With warm layers and thick socks, going for a run in the winter can still be a viable option! Just watch the ice!
2. Try these effective outdoor activities
Coupled with a balanced diet, staying active is the best way to maintain good health. From the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, adults (18-64 years old) should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week (in bouts of 10 minutes or more). It is also recommended to add muscle and bone strengthening activities at least 2 days per week. Try out activities such as:
- Brisk walking or hiking
- Jogging or running
- Ice skating
3. Try these effective indoor activities
If the winter weather is preventing you from getting outside, there are also ways to get active indoors (no gym required)! Hand weights and resistance bands can be a great addition to most exercises. Try out activities such as:
- Brisk walking or hiking
- Bodyweight exercises
- HIIT routines
4. Merge physical activity with your daily routine
You can take winter exercise a step further and try incorporating small acts of physical activity throughout your day. Since we are much more likely to be sedentary during the winter months, seek different opportunities that will work your muscles and increase your heartbeat. For example, make a conscious effort to take the stairs instead of the elevator, and walk instead of driving (when possible). Consider using a standing desk to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting, and look forward to raking the leaves or shoveling the snow! Did you know that shoveling snow can be a great form of moderate physical activity?
5. Make it fun
Exercise doesn’t have to be boring! Grab a friend or a family member and try one of the activities we mentioned. With some planning and motivation, the winter months don’t have to be spent entirely indoors. In fact, Manitoba hosts several winter festivals all over the province. The more you go out and experience the outdoors, the more you will become accustomed to the cold temperatures.