Tips for staying active and safe in the winter
During the cold and dark winter months, it is easy to talk yourself out of staying active. “It’s too cold outside,” “it’s going to be dark soon,” or “I don’t want to slip and fall” are valid and common excuses that people use every winter.
Whether you’re trying to survive the often brutal winters of eastern Idaho or someplace else that is equally challenging, don’t let the cold, snow, and ice stop you from moving your body this winter. As Dr. Vlach has said, “human beings were made for movement.”
Ways to be active indoors
There may be days that you just cannot go outside because of the weather; it might be too cold or harshly snowing. Or maybe you just don’t want to venture outdoors. That’s okay. There are plenty of ways to stay active indoors.
Staying active at home
Here are a few ways to move your body in your own home. Most are free or relatively cheap. Family members can also join in for no additional cost.
Do a workout video
Technology is great. It can also help you to stay active. No matter what you like to do or whatever your level of fitness may be, there’s a workout video for you. You can find videos for cardio, HIIT, Crossfit, Zumba, Pilates, strength training, stretching, yoga, and so much more. Depending on the amount of time that you have, you can select a video that is only 5 to 10 minutes all the way up to an hour or more.
Use the internet to find videos based on what you like doing. Many are available for free or at a low cost. You can easily search for workout videos on YouTube, or sign up for a live Zoom class. You can also watch live feeds on Instagram or Facebook, including a simple Google search for “free workout video.”
When you find one you like, remember to save it so you can easily come back to it in the future. You can search for similar types of videos or check to see if that same group or person has other videos to try.
In addition to watching videos online, you can dust off your DVD player and check out workout DVDs from your local library. This is a great way to try videos that might not be available online.
Cleaning is something that needs to be done regularly. Use it as an opportunity to be more active. Many household chores require you to be moving about the house. Sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, and dusting are just a few examples of chores that help you to be active. Put on some music and start cleaning.
Even if you’re standing at the kitchen sink doing the dishes or at the table folding laundry, move your body back and forth. Throw in a few lunges or kickbacks to make it a bit more active.
Dance around the house
This one is super simple. Turn on your favorite music and just dance. While fast and upbeat music might help you to feel more inclined to dance, slow music works great too.
Whether you’re swaying to the beat or jumping around like you're at a club, remember to also use your arms. Dancing can involve all parts of your body for a full-body workout. You can also use your levels (higher or lower) to increase the intensity.
Take the stairs
If your home has stairs, use them throughout the day. Set a reminder to walk or run up and down the stairs every hour or two. You can even stand at the bottom and just use the first step to go up and down 15 or 30 times on each leg.
Create an in-home gym
This option can get more expensive depending on the equipment you decide to purchase. However, it doesn’t have to be. It is possible to build an in-home gym without breaking the bank and most are easy to store away when not being used.
Inexpensive options for a home gym may include:
- Yoga mat
- Stability ball
- Weights (you can even use canned food if you don’t want to buy weights)
- Resistance bands
If you are interested in spending more money and have the space, there are many exercise machines you can buy. Examples may include a treadmill, exercise bike, rowing machine, elliptical, or stair climber. You could also consider a workout bench with weights.
Using other indoor spaces
Sometimes, it’s nice to get out of the house. But, perhaps you still want to stay indoors. Here are several ways to remain active indoors while leaving the house.
Join a gym
One of the great benefits of joining a gym is that you vary your workout by using different machines you might not otherwise have access to in your own home. In addition to the equipment, gyms frequently have additional classes that you can take. If you’re only interested in joining during the winter months, look for one that is month-to-month without requiring an annual commitment.
Depending on your area, you might be able to find a local community center to join. Community centers might not have all the same equipment as a larger gym, but they tend to have a smaller monthly fee to join.
Find a sports league
Another option is to join a sports league for an indoor sport. Examples of indoor sports may include basketball, volleyball, table tennis, badminton, soccer, and dodgeball. Since these sports are played indoors, all practices will also be indoors. This is a great way to play a sport you enjoy or want to try while staying warm.
Look for indoor activities you enjoy
While joining a gym and playing an indoor sport are more traditional ways of staying active, there are a lot of fun indoor activities that still allow you to move your body. Here are some examples of activities you might not have thought of:
- Go walking at a mall
- Wall climbing
Ways to be active outdoors
There still may be days that you just want to get outside. After all, fresh air and sunshine can do wonders for the soul.
Even though it may be cold outside, you can do many of the same activities in the winter that you do in the summer months. These may include running, hiking, and biking.
Here are some less obvious ways to be active outside:
- Do yard work
- Go for a nature walk
- Shovel snow
- Take the dog for a walk
Tips for staying safe while staying active outdoors
If you are going to engage in activities outside, remember to do it safely. Being active in the winter months requires more preparation if doing it outdoors. Consider these six tips.
- Check with your doctor. Make sure you are physically capable. The colder weather can exacerbate certain medical issues, such as asthma and heart conditions.
- Monitor the weather. Check the temperature, wind, and moisture to see what it is going to be like for the length of time you plan to be outside. Also, consider the wind chill factor.
- Dress in layers. This allows you to remove a layer if you’re feeling too hot. Then, you can put it back on again when you get cold. Choose fabrics that are appropriate. For example, it is best to not use cotton as your base layer as it soaks up the moisture and usually leaves you uncomfortable and cold. Also, be sure to protect your vulnerable areas (ears, nose, hands, and feet).
- Drink fluids. Even though it is not warm outside, you can still work up a sweat in cold weather. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
- Listen to your body. Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia so you can identify if you need to stop and get help.
- Use other safety gear as needed. Depending on when and where you’ll be outside, you may want to use other items. These may include sunscreen (you can still get sunburned in the winter), reflective clothes, headlamps, and shoes with good traction.
As you can see from this list, there are a variety of ways to stay active indoors and outside during the winter months. Choose several activities that you know you enjoy. We would also encourage you to try something new.
Regardless of how you choose to be active, always be safe. If you’re in need of additional medical support for any issues you may experiencing from your winter activities, contact Eastern Idaho Spine, Sports, and Rehab Center to get your body back to the things you love doing most.