As the temperature drops and the days get shorter, it’s tempting to hibernate indoors and put your fitness routine on hold. However, staying active during the cold winter months is crucial for both physical and mental well-being. Here are 12 practical tips to help you embrace the chill and maintain an active lifestyle even when the weather is less than inviting, and the light hours are fewer! Exercise and chiropractic care go together like peanut butter and jelly, so let’s get you on your way to staying active and enjoying doing so during the colder Central Oregon months.
Dress in Layers
The key to staying active in the cold is proper clothing. Dressing in layers allows you to regulate your body temperature more effectively. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer to keep sweat away from your skin, add an insulating layer for warmth, and finish with a waterproof and wind-resistant outer layer to protect against the elements. Do take note that once your heart rate is up and your blood and oxygen are pumping through your body, you will feel a bit warmer, and you may begin wanting or needing to peel off a layer or two as you go.
Invest in Quality Winter Gear
Having the right gear can make all the difference. Invest in winter-specific workout gear, including thermal leggings, moisture-wicking socks, insulated gloves, and a good-quality winter jacket. These items will keep you warm and comfortable during outdoor activities.
Choose the Right Activities
Not all winter activities involve braving freezing temperatures. Opt for indoor exercises like yoga, pilates, or indoor rock climbing. If you prefer outdoor activities, consider winter sports like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or ice skating. These activities can be not only enjoyable but also great calorie-burning exercises that fit our Central Oregon winter climate.
Find a Winter Workout Buddy
Staying motivated during the winter is often easier when you have a workout buddy. Find a friend who shares your fitness goals and schedule regular workout sessions together. Having someone to share the experience with can make exercising in the cold more enjoyable. Plus, we all need a little accountability sometimes, especially when self-motivation becomes a struggle (we ALL have our days/seasons of low motivation and it’s OK!).
Set Realistic Goals
Winter often brings unique challenges, so it’s essential to set realistic fitness goals. Whether it’s maintaining your current fitness level, improving endurance, or trying a new winter sport, setting achievable goals will keep you motivated and focused.
Warming up is crucial in cold weather to prevent injuries. Spend extra time warming up your muscles before engaging in outdoor activities. Include dynamic stretches and light cardio to increase blood flow and flexibility.
Even in cold weather, it’s important to stay hydrated. You might not notice, but the dry winter air can dehydrate your body, and you may not feel as thirsty as you do in the heat. Keep a water bottle with you and drink regularly throughout the day, especially if you’re engaging in physical activities. If ice water is too shocking to your system, opt for room temperature water! Or, if water is too plain for your taste, try adding lemon or cucumber for a more refreshing option.
Embrace Seasonal Opportunities
Winter provides unique opportunities for physical activity that you might not have during other seasons. Take advantage of snowy conditions by trying activities like snowboarding, sledding, or building a snowman (yes, this counts as a workout!). These activities can be a fun and effective way to stay active, especially with friends and/or family.
Plan Indoor Workouts
For those days when the weather is particularly harsh, as Central Oregon has from time to time, having a backup plan for indoor workouts is essential. Create a home workout routine that you can easily do in your living room. Include bodyweight exercises, yoga, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts that require minimal equipment. We’re also fortunate in Central Oregon to have several beautiful indoor pools that are heated year-round for swimming and water aerobics classes. If the weather permits, think about heading to the pool for a low-impact workout. *Check with us before lifting or doing high-intensity workouts!
Get Adequate Sunlight
Exposure to natural light is crucial for maintaining a positive mood during the winter months. Aim to spend some time outdoors during daylight hours, even if it’s just for a short walk. If sunlight is scarce, consider using a light therapy lamp to combat seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If seasonal depression is something you do or have combatted in the past, please let us know so we can better support you and offer some extra tips. And, as always, make sure your health care provider is aware as well.
Big successes aren’t the only things worth celebrating. Celebrating little successes is important, and staying active during the winter is an accomplishment worth celebrating. Set up a reward system for reaching your fitness goals, whether it’s treating yourself to a cozy night in, enjoying a favorite winter treat, or investing in a new piece of workout gear.
Listen to Your Body
Lastly, pay attention to how your body feels. If you’re feeling fatigued or unwell, it’s okay to scale back your workout intensity or take a rest day. Winter can be challenging, and it’s crucial to prioritize your health and well-being.
Staying active during the cold winter months is not only possible but also beneficial for your overall health. By dressing appropriately, choosing the right activities, and staying motivated, you can make winter a season of fitness and well-being. Embrace the chill, try new activities, and keep moving to stay energized and resilient throughout the winter. Remember, the key is to find activities that you enjoy, making it easier to stay committed to your fitness routine even when the snow is falling.