Staying Active in the Winter

Story by Sarah Gold, TSET Healthy Living Program Specialist 

It’s the beginning of a new year! The new year is a great time for a fresh start. Many people embody this by setting goals or resolutions. Studies show that approximately 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, and about half of these people set goals that are related to their health. For many people, this entails losing the weight that was gained during the holiday season or attaining a certain exercise goal, such as running a half marathon or going to the gym a certain number of days per week. We all desire to be the best, healthiest versions of ourselves. However, research also shows that 80% of New Year’s resolutions are no longer kept by people by the beginning of February. 

One of the biggest barriers to attaining New Year’s resolutions that are health-related can be the cold winter weather. It’s really difficult to get outside to run or to leave the comfort of our homes to go to the gym when it’s cold, raining, or even snowy and icy outside. It’s often easier, or sometimes even safer, to remain indoors. Below are some ideas for both embracing the cold weather and for being active while still remaining warm and safe inside, or even at home! 

If you’re feeling brave and desire to get outdoors, try something simple like going for a walk around your neighborhood, downtown, or at Boomer Lake. This can also be a great way to spend time with your family or to catch up with a friend. If you’re feeling adventurous, take advantage of other fun outdoor activities such as ice skating or skiing. While these are not usually offered in town, they can make for a fun outing if you and your family or friends are wanting to spend some time outdoors. Even if you can only get outside sporadically, doing so and getting some fresh air and sunshine can help reduce stress levels. 

If you’re willing to leave the house but aren’t crazy about spending time in the chilly weather, then try a group fitness class. The Colvin Recreation Center, YMCA, Orange Theory, and several other fitness studios in town offer fun and diverse opportunities to participate in structured workouts with others. If you’re looking for an activity that’s lower impact, try Yoga at one of the many studios in town or swim some laps at the pools located at the Colvin or the YMCA. 

If the weather is unfavorable and you would prefer to stay at home, then there are a ton of options for getting a good, at-home workout. For example, search for workouts on YouTube or try downloading a free fitness app on your phone. There are numerous free and fun workouts that can be found online. Additionally, there are many options for kids, such as GoNoodle and Cosmic Yoga. Or, if you love dancing, put on some music and have a dance party at home! This can be a fun and easy way to burn calories. 

If you are able, try to do any of these options with a friend or family member. The combination of being active and social can help to prevent seasonal affective disorder and seasonal moodiness. Research shows that people who work out with a friend or participate in group workouts report better mental, emotional, and physical health compared to those who work out alone. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water, wear clothing to stay warm, and try to get at least seven hours of sleep per night. Most importantly, give yourself grace as you find winter activities that work for you. The path to a healthier lifestyle has many ups and downs, so be gentle with yourself as you make adjustments to be a healthier and happier you in 2020.