The benefits of outdoor activity have been well documented. Exercising and being active outdoors has a positive impact on both physical and psychological well-being (Loureiro & Veloso, 2014; Pretty, et al. , 2005). Many Canadians love to get outside and take advantage of our glorious summer months, participating in all sorts of activities from structured workouts (boot-camps, runs, etc.) to simply enjoying moving around in the fresh air (hiking, passing a football with a friend—I could go on and on).
The challenge can be in getting outside for activity and exercise during winter months. It can be all too easy to just want to hunker down inside when the temperature dips and the snow starts to fly. I will provide a few great ways to take your activity and exercise outdoors during the winter so you can maintain the positive benefits of being active outdoors year-round!
My first (and perhaps most important) tip to get in more outdoor activity during the winter is to go with a friend in whatever form of activity you are choosing. It is way more fun to have someone share the experience with you and it also helps to keep each other accountable. You are less likely to skip it if you know someone else is counting on you!
If you enjoy structured workouts, try creating a circuit workout in the snow. Perhaps a bench or picnic table in the park can be used to create different levels of height to work with. Set a few different stations for yourself to perform various bodyweight exercises at each spot. You can set a timer and work at each station for a set amount of time or work for certain repetitions: whatever format you choose! Don’t forget about outdoor stairs and how they might be able to be incorporated (just watch for ice and use your judgment to determine if they are safe).
For those seeking a less structured approach, try out a new winter activity. There are a ton to choose from, suiting many different needs and tastes. Some classic examples include cross-country skiing, tobogganing, skating, and hockey. You can choose an activity that does not require a ton of extra equipment. Hiking or walking in the winter can be enjoyable, provided you have access to nicely cleared walking paths or if you have a good pair of grippy boots. Last winter, I borrowed some snowshoes and gave it a try for the first time. I really enjoyed it! I made the investment to get my own snowshoes this season and was lucky enough to be able to take advantage of some pretty spectacular days this winter, including this snowshoe trip pictured here to Chester Lake in Kananaskis.
It was the most challenging snowshoe I have done to date and I had to push myself to keep going. I would have never had the opportunity to see these stunning, snowy views in person had I not taken up snowshoeing.
Try changing up one or two days of activity and exercise in your week to outdoor pursuits – you may find a new challenge that you enjoy for life!
By Caitlyn Jones – BPE, CSEP-CPT