The wintertime tends to support something of a sedentary lifestyle. This isn’t all too surprising. After all, the weather is usually much colder and the night draws in earlier. The coziness of a warm blanket, surrounded by pillows, and indulging in tasty treats are certainly preferable to braving the elements. However, this isn’t exactly conducive to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
This is not to say you can’t enjoy some of the perks of this time of year and embrace the hygge approach to your indoor spaces. But it’s also important to adapt your regular exercise routines to the challenges the winter can present. After all, you don’t want to risk undoing your wellness work from the rest of the year with a few months of hibernation behavior!
Let’s dive into some activities you can adopt to boost your health during the cold and dark winter months.
So, why shouldn’t you spend the winter cocooned in a blanket and nursing a hot cup of cocoa? Well, you tend to get the most health benefits from consistent exercise. Not to mention that when the warmer months come around again it can be harder to muster the motivation to get back into shape. Your body and mind will be better served if you put the time into maintaining your wellbeing.
But it can also help you address specific elements of your physical health. Frequent exercise and exposure to sunlight can help naturally restore testosterone deficiency. This is not just the direct influence of greater muscle mass and reduced abdominal fat. It’s also helped by reduced stress, additional vitamin D, and better sleep.
Even your specific weight issues can benefit from physical activity during the winter. You tend to use less energy when exercising in colder weather. As a result, you can work out longer to burn more calories.
Mentally speaking, winter exercise can be an effective salve for seasonal challenges. It releases endorphins and brings you closer to nature, which is beneficial if you’re living with depression or seasonal affective disorder. Not to mention it helps the quality of your sleep, which influences anxiety. Keeping in shape and maintaining visible signs of health can also be a boost to your self-esteem.
Not all winter activities are right for everyone. Indeed, finding the right selection can be key to keeping you motivated to continue pursuing them throughout the cold months. As such, it’s worth looking at how your fitness goals can be adjusted to suit the winter.
This isn’t just about getting an indoor exercise bike to replicate your summer cycling. Look at what major categories of outdoor exercise you need to focus on and consider new activities to meet the relevant goals. If your goals surround endurance, you may be able to replace your summer swim for a regular uphill hike. For strength, you might swap your usual kayaking for chopping wood for your fireplace.
It’s also worth adjusting your goals to meet the new needs of winter. The cold months may harm your circulation. As such, you may want to bring in some additional jogging sessions. Winter is peak time for colds and the flu, so consider activities to boost your immune system. Regular walking, strength training, and even pilates can be good options here.
The wintertime may have a reputation for being the cozy season. But it also has some activities designed to take advantage of the colder weather. It’s worth exploring how some of these winter sports can feature as part of your regular healthy lifestyle while helping you to get into the spirit of the season.
If you live in an area of the country that sees snow and ice in the winter, there are activities geared toward these elements. Skiing is popular, but you don’t necessarily need access to mountains or hillsides. Cross-country skiing gives you a full-body workout and there is evidence to suggest it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) events. Ice-skating can also be a useful tool for your joint and muscle health and improving your balance and coordination.
However, you don’t have to engage in activities involving specialist (and often expensive) equipment to embrace the winter. Even sledding with your kids and joining in the occasional snowball fight can keep your heart rate up, help you burn some calories, and stretch your limbs. Not to mention that the fun of the activity and family engagement has a positive impact on your overall mental wellness.
Not all winter activities have to take place outside. Indeed, one of the routes to boosting your motivation and your general sense of positivity is finding some indoor activities. After all, not everyone is lucky enough to live near perfect snow-dusted vistas. If your winter is more likely to be damp and windy, seeking indoor venues can be key to staying healthy.
Many larger towns and cities today have indoor ice skating rinks. But you can also build your strength, keep your joints in check, and improve your coordination with some bowling. Indeed, gathering some friends for a few frames can aid in mutual wellness. Just don’t overindulge in the snack bar.
Aside from your physical health, you can bolster your mental wellness by getting out of the house and feeding your mind. This could include regular trips to your local library to read some books or perform some research into a subject you find fascinating. Take a few trips to museums and art galleries. Many zoos today also have indoor biodome areas where you can be around animals and stay warm.
The wintertime doesn’t always inspire a lot of outdoor activity. But it’s important to find activities to help maintain your wellbeing. Think about how you can adjust your regular health goals to suit the season and engage with some of the highlights the winter has to offer. It’s also wise to locate a few indoor pursuits that nourish your body and mind. You don’t need to abandon the coziness of the winter, but it’s important to keep up a little consistent exercise.