I will never forget when I first moved to Vermont my good friend Will Russell told me that I needed to get outside in the winter time. He said that if I didn’t find fun and exciting things to do in the snow, winter would be long and dark and might be depressing. I took that to heart and my first winter, I bought a snowboard. I made it a point to get out at least a couple of times a week to let the sun shine down on my body and cold air fill my lungs.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the winter time cozies. It’s super comfortable to cuddle up next to a fire with a good book after work, I get it. I do the same. Winter can definitely be a disrupter for physical activity. Here’s my recommendation though - just get outside. Drag yourself off of the couch, throw on warm clothes, and do it. Pick something that you think you might enjoy, try it out, and then most likely you’ll find yourself with a big, fat smile on your face at the end. Remember the hardest thing to do is to begin. Just begin and then the next time, I promise it will be easier to throw on that hat and step outside. Plus, your cozy time will feel even more rewarding after a little outdoor sweat session.
There are many benefits to exercising outdoors - exposure to sunlight enhances vitamin D production, it provides a mental health boost improving your mood, improves self esteem, there is little cost or no cost, and its a lovely way to connect with Mother Nature and your community - enhancing your appreciation for the beauty around you. Your body burns more calories when exercising outdoors in the cold temps because it has to utilize more energy to keep the body warm. You can beat those winter blues away by staying active through the cold months. Exercising releases the “feel-good” chemicals serotonin and dopamine, helping to reduce anxiety and depression. Wintertime movement also helps boost your immune system!
Mother Nature is not sharing the exact same conditions daily. We have lots to consider when deciding to head outside. Check the forecast. Cold temperatures alone can be fine but when the wind starts whipping, frostbite can set in. At wind chill levels below minus 18 F, frostbite can occur on exposed skin in 30 minutes or less. If the temperature dips below zero F or the wind chill is extreme, move your workout inside. Always remember to wear a water proof outer layer if it’s raining or snowing. If you get soaked, your core body temperature may go down resulting in a vulnerable body. Outdoor exercise is safe for most people in cold weather but if you have certain conditions such as asthma, heart problems, or peripheral neuropathy in extremities, check with your doctor first.
Proper preparation is necessary to avoid over-exposure. Dress in layers that you can remove when you start to sweat and then put back on as needed. The inner layer should be designed to wick moisture away such as polyester or polypropylene (no cotton). The middle layer should be for insulation such as fleece or wool. The outer layer should be a protective coating from elements like wind and rain, but still allow moisture to evaporate. Hats, headbands, warm socks, scarves, and gloves can help prevent frostbite in exposed areas. Don’t forget to stay hydrated. It may be harder to notice if you’re thirsty in the cold weather. Make sure to bring a bottle of water or a camelback with you and if that’s not possible, rehydrate as soon as your workout is complete.
Please listen to your body and move it in the way that it’s asking you to. At times it may YELL that it needs to really get after it to feel satisfied or it might quietly tell you that it’s ready for a short and slow walk in the woods. Whatever it may be, listen carefully and then move accordingly. Don’t forget to mix up your movement! Walk and run and jump and lift and stretch. Being well rounded in life and with your movement is super important not only to your overall health and wellbeing but also to your happiness and joy.
SoulShine Schedule Monday - HIIT at Woodstock Rec - 8:15-9:15 am Tuesday - PiYo at Woodstock Rec - 8:15-9:15 am Thursday - PiYo at Woodstock Athletic Club - 12-1 pm Friday - HIIT at Woodstock Rec - 8:15-9:15 am