When it gets cold outside, we tend to spend more time indoors doing sedentary activities and it can be difficult to stay active. It’s helpful to plan ahead and set some time aside in your schedule a few days a week to make sure you’re getting the activity you need.
To have health benefits from exercise, adults need a total of 2.5 hours of activity spread across the week, in bouts of ten minutes or more. These activities need to be moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic activities. Moderate-intensity physical activities include brisk walking or bike riding. Generally, you know your activity is moderate-intensity if you sweat a little and breathe harder than when you’re moving about day-to-day. Vigorous-intensity activities include jogging or cross-country skiing, and you’re likely to find yourself sweating and feeling out of breath.1
Here are a few tips to help keep you motivated to stay active during the winter months2:
- Plan activities ahead. When activities are in your calendar, you’re less likely to forget them. Preparedness also helps set good habits.
- Find a fun local activity, like snow shoeing, skiing, skating, or cross-country skiing.
- Dress in layers. Insulate your body. When you can keep your body warm, it’s easier to continue being active outside.
- Use your daylight hours. It’s easier to stay outside while it’s still light out. It’s easy to miss out on activities when you start them too late in the day.
- Find indoor activities at your local community centre. This could be aerobics classes, badminton, basketball, or yoga classes.
- Climb stairs. Deliberately add more steps to your day. Consider going up and down a flight in your home, the mall, or an office building more than once over the course of your regular daily activities. As little as five minutes can make a huge difference for your health.
- Visit a library to find more motivation. There are plenty of free exercise DVDs you can borrow, including dance, step, aerobics, or Pilates. You can use the return date as a deadline to pick up another one!
- Sign up for a fun run. You can often find non-competitive “fun runs” in your community that are usually between 5 and 10 kilometers. You can invite friends and family to join in!
- Find an activity buddy. Find someone willing to commit to being active as often as you are, and set a plan. That could be planning to meet for morning walks or afternoon workouts. Having a friend keeps you accountable.
Whatever your activity level is, remember to stay hydrated. It is easy to forget to drink water when it’s cold out, but your body needs just as much hydration in a snowstorm as it does in a heatwave.2
Most importantly, stay motivated. Revisit your goals (or look for tips to set new ones) to make sure you’re still on track. Plan ahead and make sure you can envision your goal as you look ahead towards the finish line.
Here’s to staying active in the new year!
- Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines. 1st ed. CSEP; 2016. Available at: http://www.csep.ca/CMFIles/Guidelines/CSEP_PAGuidelines_adults_en.pdf. Accessed November 7, 2016.
- Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. 11 ways to stay active in winter. 2009. Heartandstroke.ca. Available at: http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=ikIQLcMWJtE&b=4832209&ct=7596299. Accessed November 7, 2016.