Staying active and healthy can be hard. And as temperatures plummet, it’s just one more reason to avoid hitting the road for your early morning jog. Hibernating in your house until spring would be so much cozier.
But staying healthy is a year-round gig. Rain or shine, your mind and body function best when you’re active. In fact, a decent stack of research suggests a workout in the cold is better than working up a sweat in the summer heat.
So put on your gloves and cap, open the door, and embrace the chill. Here are five easy ways to stay healthy and active this winter.
When working out during winter months, the biggest favor you can do for yourself is to change your wardrobe.
Gloves, beanies, jackets, and tights help insulate your body heat during a cold run. For best results, layer your clothing using a tight-fitting base layer made of wicking material to keep you warm and dry. Combine this with a loose outer layer to protect you from wind and rain.
Avoid cotton—it doesn’t dry out easily. Instead, choose clothes with synthetic fibres, preferably water resistant. And don’t forget to cover your head; a lot of heat escapes without a snug hat.
Take Advantage of Daylight Hours
When the earth changes its schedule, there’s no shame in changing yours, too.
Alter your workout times to coincide with the sunny, warmer hours of the day. The increased sun exposure will help your body absorb the vitamin D it desperately needs, and often lacks, during the darker months.
Reserve your mornings, late afternoons, and evenings for indoor tasks. This way, you’ll have plenty of time to be active while the sun is riding high.
Work Out Indoors
If you really hate the cold (or if the cold really hates you), move your workout indoors.
Walk around a shopping mall, find a gym you like, or create a workout you can do at home. Some athletic apparel stores even host free fitness classes. If you’re really looking to sweat, sign up for a hot yoga class. It’s about as far away as you can get from the cold outdoors.
Improve Your Nutrition
As you find ways to stay active during the winter, revisit your diet. Proper nutrition is just as important as exercise when it comes to staying healthy.
Eat plenty of dark green or orange vegetables and fruits to get the sugars, nutrients, and healthy fats you need. Load up on omega-3 fatty acids for joint and cardiovascular health. Fibre-rich foods can boost your immune system, along with spices like garlic, ginger, turmeric, and cilantro.
You can also supplement your daily nutrition with probiotics to keep your microflora balanced and healthy.
Embrace the Cold
One of the best ways to stay active during the winter is to just face the cold head on. As long as you’re dressed appropriately, you’ll survive. And once you get moving, you may not even notice the icy air.
Recent research shows that working out in the cold actually activates multiple important systems in the body. It’s easier for your body to regulate its temperature in colder weather. Plus, working out in the cold is invigorating and will make your well-deserved cup of coffee all the sweeter when you get home.
If you’re tempted to complain about how cold winter is, just remember how hot summer will be. Take advantage of these brisk months to add a little excitement to your workout. In time, you’ll acclimate to the temperature and, who knows, you may even begin to enjoy the chill.
About the Writer
Born and raised in Utah, Taylor Pulver grew up fishing, camping, and hiking his way through the Wasatch Range. Now, he lives in Salt Lake City as a writer, gardener, and avid reader of fantasy and science fiction novels.