How to Stay Active Outdoors During the Winter Months
It’s cold outside! During the winter, this might keep you from venturing out. And with COVID-19 guidelines in place, you might have limited access to health clubs and workout equipment. However, the benefits of regular exercise are too important to skip during the winter months.
Before you burrow under a blanket and hibernate, consider taking part in one of these fun outdoor activities:
- Ice skating
- Cross-country skiing
- Outdoor cycling
- Brisk walking or hiking
- Jogging or running
- Horseback riding
There are also many activities that you might not think of as exercise. But they can be! All it takes is a shift of your mindset to remember you can burn calories and build muscle with almost any activity. Try it next time you are:
- Doing yard work
- Shoveling snow
- Building a snow fort
It’s important to stay safe and warm. The American Heart Association offers a few pointers:
- Dress appropriately. Layers of clothing are important for trapping heat and forming insulation against the cold, wind, rain and snow. Avoid layering with cotton clothing. When cotton becomes wet, it traps moisture. This can make you feel colder. For your first layer, wear the type of fabric used in high-performance sportswear that wicks away moisture. Next, add a layer of fleece or something else puffy and warm. Finally, top with a waterproof layer to keep dry. Be sure to cover your extremities. Pay special attention to your fingers, toes and ears. Don’t forget to wear a hat.
- Know the signs of hypothermia. Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature drops significantly. The most common cause is extended exposure to cold. It can become very dangerous. Symptoms to be aware of include lack of coordination, mental confusion, slowed reactions, slurred speech, cold feet and hands, shivering, and sleepiness.
- Stay hydrated. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water. The American Council on Exercise suggests drinking 17 to 20 ounces of water two to three hours before physical activity, 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes before you start physical activity, 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during physical activity, and 8 ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after physical activity. It sounds like a lot, but your body will thank you!
- Take safety precautions. If it’s dark outside, wear a reflective outer layer. If the ground is uneven or slippery due to weather conditions, choose footwear with enough traction to prevent falls.
John Wesley’s said “A due degree of exercise is indispensably necessary to health and long life.” The American Heart Association recommends at least 2.5 hours of aerobic exercise per week for adults.