When the sun sets before 4:30 and the temperature fluctuates between chilly and I-think-my-nose-might-fall-off levels, the couch and a cozy blanket seem extra appealing. Though there is something to be said for allowing yourself to slow down a little and reflect in this season of long nights, keeping active will help maintain your health and your mood. Check out the tips below to help you get moving and stay moving throughout the winter.
Get the right gear
If you walk or run, great! Stick to your established routine, just make sure you have layers that work. Experiment with layering exercise clothes that you already have before investing in new gear. When the sidewalks get icy, wear shoes with good traction for your walks, or buy a set of Yak Trax or similar gear to give your feet some extra grip. While exercising outside in the morning or evening, be sure to wear brightly colored or reflective clothing to make sure that you are visible to drivers. If a furry friend keeps you company, consider investing in a collar light to keep them safe too.
If you cycle as a commuter or for exercise, that doesn’t have to stop just because we're approaching the winter solstice. Similar to other forms of exercise, having the right gear is key. If it’s cold and drizzly out, a pair of rain pants will keep you from having a soggy bottom all day, and will help keep you warm and dry during the commute. Make sure you can still brake and shift gears with a warm, waterproof pair of gloves or handlebar mitts. Lights and reflective clothing are even more important in inclement weather, so be sure you stay visible!
Keep your bike in tip top shape by regularly cleaning and oiling the chain. Consider switching to wider tires and decreasing tire pressure to prevent skidding. For days when it doesn’t feel safe to ride on the roads, listen to that instinct and bring your cycling habit inside. Check out a tough spin class or have a go on your local gym’s stationary bikes.
create a Home Exercise Studio
Go ahead, turn on the tv – and get moving. There are a wealth of exercise videos out there, ranging from core workouts to cardio bootcamps to yoga. If you aren’t ready to purchase videos, sites Do Yoga With Me are free, while others are available on Netflix or at your local library. Find one that you like and do it regularly, or keep it on reserve for days when you want to stay cozy in your winter lair.
You can also develop your own exercise routine that you can do in the living room. Exercises like squats, burpees, mountain climbers and planks will get your heart pumping and muscles burning – no specialized equipment necessary.
Seize the Day (Light)
Ok, ok, so it’s not like it’s totally dark in the wintertime in New England. But if night falling before you leave the office bums you out, take advantage of what daylight there is by taking walk during the day. Use your lunch break to get to know the neighborhood, or find a good loop you know you can do in ten, twenty or thirty minutes depending on how long you feel you can step away. Even if it’s cold, the sunlight will lift your spirits and leave you feeling energized.
Add an element of fun to staying active. Sledding or a rowdy snowball fight is an exciting way to get moving and enjoy the outdoors. Turn an after dinner walk into a quest for the house with the most holiday lights in your neighborhood.
Raking and shoveling are chores but also are a good workout. And when you’re done, you have a giant pile of leaves to jump into or a mound of snow waiting to be sculpted into a snow monster. Turning these tasks into a game is a nice way to get the whole family both to contribute and have fun together.
Try something new
Have you been dying to try Zumba? Rock climbing? Tai Chi? Winter is the time. Keep yourself excited about getting active by trying new things. Take advantage of New Year’s incentive deals to explore options, whether or not you decide barre or Crossfit is the best thing ever.
There are also an abundance of winter sports to get into. You can cross-country ski as close as Carlisle or Weston, and the Blue Hills ski area in Canton is a fun spot for catching some powder on a weeknight. Rent equipment for a day or find a cheap pair of secondhand snowshoes or ice skates to experiment to help you decide if these sports are for you.
Whatever you choose to do to stay active this winter, be sure to power up with lots of healthy snacks.