Ashley Clay, MSPAS, PA-C
Cold weather and fewer daylight hours can tempt you into spending lots of time indoors, sitting around. However, staying active during the winter months is not an impossible challenge! Here are some indoor and outdoor ideas to get you up and moving.
If You Want to Stay Inside
- Join a gym. Depending on what’s in your neighborhood, you can take advantage of indoor cycling, running tracks, swimming pools, and climbing walls.
- Take fitness classes or dance lessons. If you feel sluggish trying to exercise by yourself—don’t! Groups can help hold you accountable, increase your motivation, and provide you with rewarding social interaction.
- Play indoor sports. Recreational games like basketball, bowling, and racquetball all get you up and moving.
- Start mall walking. If online shopping has diminished your reasons for going to the mall, here is a new reason: lots of places to walk. The CDC provides a free Mall Walking Resource guide.
If You Don’t Mind Bundling Up
First, make sure you know how to avoid frostbite and hypothermia and that you bundle up the right way—wear appropriate gear for winter outdoor activities. Wear several layers of loose-fitting clothing. Start with a synthetic moisture-wicking material, such as polypropylene, so you won’t get chilled when you sweat (cotton will trap your sweat and make you damp and cold). Layer next with wool or fleece and top off with a water-resistant winter coat. Wear a hat, scarf, gloves or mittens, and thick socks. If you’re planning to be in the snow, make sure your water-resistant boots are large enough to accommodate thicker socks. And don’t forget to wear sunscreen!
- Play in the snow. Build a snowman or snow fort; make snow angels. Go sledding, snowtubing, or tobogganing.
- Explore the winter wonderland. Try snowshoeing. Take a winter hike. Go ice fishing.
- Get your seasonal thrills. Enjoy cross-country or downhill skiing, snowboarding, or ice skating at an outdoor rink.
- Grab your drink and go! Instead of chatting over coffee or tea while sitting at a table, sip with friends while strolling around town.
After a full day of winter play, be sure to appreciate the wind-down moments. Especially take time to stretch to release tension in your muscles. Eat a satisfying and healthy dinner. And get a good night’s sleep.
Mayo Clinic, “Winter fitness: Safety tips for exercising outdoors,” https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/fitness/art-20045626