Staying Active as it Gets Colder: 10 Tips for Fitness & Fun

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1. Keep your fitness goals in mind and create a plan for how you will achieve those during colder weather when maybe you just won’t want to or maybe even be able to workout outside (please no wild ice storms this year mother nature!).

2. Ty a new sport or winter activity: good places to start if you’ve not been active in the winter: skating, skiing (cross country or downhill), hockey. If you’re already seasoned to these why not try snowshoeing, curling, dogsledding (yup you can try it in Ontario cottage country!), or horseback trail riding, which is an amazing year round activity.

3.  Go play outside! Yes, just play outside. Remember when you were a kid? Or maybe you don’t if you didn’t grow up here, then even more reason to play in the winter, you can appreciate some of the fun that all this cold brings. It’s an adventure in fun and fitness you have likely forgotten about. I haven’t missed a year of crazy carpeting since I travelled and was out of country for the winter, and before that it was years. Why? Because it’s just too much fun not to take part in it. So go jump in a leaf pile, throw around a football, and in a couple of months build snowman, or even better a snow fort, have a snowball fight, or go tobogganing.

4. Find a few things you enjoy doing indoors and have the space for at home. Maybe it’s a workout video, dancing with your kids (or your dog, I know this happens!), or even your partner (wild idea I know!), maybe just some calisthenics to get you going in the morning.

5. Take some classes, hire a trainer, or find a gym buddy. Find a way to be accountable for doing your fitness routine and sticking to your goals. If you find a class you like you’ll probably meet friends that expect to be toughing it out with you each class. Hire a trainer if you’re really committed to ensuring goals happen and are ready to truly get results. Find a gym buddy if you know what you’re doing and you just need someone to meet and make sure you get to doing that workout.

6. Get to doing those home projects and those activities you ignore but want done (like dusting the top of the kitchen cupboards for example). Colder weather is the perfect time for those, and keeps you moving. So throw on some motivating tunes and get to it!

7. Think in layers. When it’s cold outside and you bundle up and exercise you will become a sopping sweaty mess very quickly under all of those clothes. So dress in layers for optimal comfort. Your base layer should be sweat wicking (merino  wool and many synthetics are better for this), and your top layer should be water and wind resistant. When you get too warm you can pull of a layer without going from bundled to exposed (and wet with sweat).

8. The equipment for the job. In addition to layers having the right equipment for the job is very important. So bundling in a ski jacket may be appropriate if you’re going skiing, also if you plan on running in the winter do you have shoes that will keep your feet warm and dry? Do you have a way of ensuring traction in potentially slippery conditions? In some winter activities you’ll want a tuque in others perhaps just a beanie. Big mitts or sleek but warm gloves? Make sure when it comes to the weather you’re ready for your chosen activities. Because I can’t make an exhaustive list here, ask me or use the staff at MEC, Europe Bound, Sporting Life, Running Room, Nike Stores, and others. They can be excellent resources for your sport specific needs.

9. Hydrate. Often in the winter when we don’t feel like we sweat as much,  or we’re “just playing”, or “just shovelling”, we will just not drink enough water either. We’re not seeking cool refreshment in the cold, but then make some herbal tea, or warm water with lemon, or just have some room temperature water, doesn’t have to be frigid, but with our heating systems that dry the air, we need it just as much, and perhaps because we neglect it, maybe even more!

10. If you want to stay active during the cooler weather take it easy when you’re under the weather, or you could end up prolonging or worsening your illness. If you’re illness is mild or you’re close to recovered you can do some lighter-than-usual cardio, and stretching is usually okay anytime, just go really gentle. If you’re super sick rest rest rest and that’s all, don’t even try to work or get stuff done around the house, do the bare minimum, seriously it’s the only time I usually advocate for it, but there is a time for and it’s when you’re very ill. And just no strength conditioning, sorry! I know some will miss it, but it creates further work for your body to repair (which is fine when you’re healthy) and that doesn’t bode well with getting better.

BONUS Tip! Perhaps you struggle with the seasonal changes, or you are just not motivated when it’s dark by 4:30, or just “ugh! it’s so cold!”. Try keeping your workout and your major need-to-do activities during daylight hours. I know this may require schedule adjustments, and perhaps lunchtime appointments, but our bodies really like the daylight. We’re not as nocturnal and our late teens and early twenties may have had us believe we could be, so do your best to do major productivity “stuff” in the daytime in order to ensure it gets done, and get enough sleep, to ensure you  feel awesome year round!

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