Winter: the time to be cozy, to snuggle up next to a fire or under a blanket. The time to lazily read for hours, or bake all day. What usually doesn’t come to mind when we think of winter, is being fit. On the contrary, many of us tend to gain a bit of weight over the winter months. It’s almost inherent in the cold and blustery season to bunk down and beef up, as in, hide from the cold and put on an extra layer or two of weight!
The problem with seasonal weight gain is that it’s often a whole lot harder to lose the weight than it is to put it on. You might find yourself having to overhaul your diet and activity routine each spring, and generally feeling unfit and unhealthy as warmer weather starts coming around.
This type of yo-yo gain and loss is not only bad for your body, but creates an unhealthy habitual lifestyle each winter. However, if you change just one or two habits or maybe add in a new routine, you’ll start to feel better and have an easier transition come springtime.
Read on for 5 tips for staying fit and healthy in the wintertime.
- Join a gym with classes
Joining a gym isn’t enough to beat those winter blues and keep you motivated. When the days are short and you’re getting home just as the sun is setting, or even worse, you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark, finding the motivation to go to the gym is even harder. There’s definitely something difficult about leaving your house in the dark. Darkness and the evening typically slows our bodies down, preparing them for sleep.
One way to beat the dark is to be excited about going to the gym. I know, it sounds impossible, right? However, working out with other people, even strangers in a gym class like pilates or yoga, can keep us motivated and excited about working out. You’ll be surrounded with like minded people who have the same goals as you and the energy will be palpable.
- Find outdoor activities to get you off the treadmill
If you’re a person who doesn’t like the cold, snow, or ice, outdoor winter activities can be hard for you. But, there’s nothing better to get you loving winter than doing something fun, even in the chilly weather!
If you live in a snowy area, your options are limitless. Even from something as mundane as shoveling the snow, you can make a great workout out of it and start to enjoy the benefits. Make sure that you are shoveling with good form by using tips like these. Go snowshoeing, or even try a bit of jogging in the snowshoes. Skiing and snowboarding both have excellent fitness benefits, along with being an adrenaline rush and a fun day.
If you live in an area with no snow, you probably have slightly warmer winter temperatures that still allow you to get outside and workout. Use the winter temperatures to your advantage by doing high cardio activities that you would normally be quite hot doing in the summertime.
No matter where you live and what kind of winter you have, one of the most important parts of being able to have a sustainable outdoor activity habit is to buy the right winter gear. Almost nothing is too cold or too wet for excellent gear. You’ll have less of an excuse to join in on winter activities when your gear keeps you warm comfortable the whole time.
- Schedule physio or chiropractor appointments when things feel off
Winter tends to exacerbate injuries and aches. The cold weather makes it harder to warm up those muscles and joints, and you may not spend as much time strengthening them as you should. When something feels off, or you have some pain that refuses to go away, don’t ignore it this winter. Go get that shoulder therapy you’ve needed for a while now, or have that nagging knee pain looked at. You’ll have a more active and more comfortable winter by doing so.
- Amp up your immune system
One thing that sidelines us almost every winter is getting sick. While a normal cold, or an occasional bad fever is expected for the wintertime, additional sickness isn’t. One thing you can do to keep yourself healthy and active is to keep your immune system working at full power. Take your vitamins, get lots of sleep, and eat well to start, and follow these other tips to be a sickness fighting machine.
- Set goals
Humans love having something to work towards. Think about your to do lists at work, or even your grocery list. Checking something off of it feels amazing, doesn’t it? Try and replicate this for yourself by coming up with attainable goals for each month, or even each week of the winter. Maybe even consider putting them up on your refrigerator, or another place where you’ll see them every day. Keep them up even as you physically cross them off to keep you motivated to keep going.
Your goals can be anything that keeps you moving and healthy. For example, maybe one of your weekly goals is to get outside and do a winter activity at least once each week. Or maybe it’s just to take your daily vitamin every day this week. Maybe you have a monthly goal to go snowboarding, or a one time winter goal of getting your flu shot. Whatever it is, keep yourself accountable and write them down!
Even if you just choose one of these tips this winter to stick to, you’ll be better off for it. Staying fit and healthy over the long term requires small – manageable, (and more importantly) – sustainable changes that you can do for the rest of your life. Start small and be persistent, and you’ll stop feeling those winter blues and gaining that winter weight in no time.