Thursday, December 8, 2016

Image result for winter walking
Don’t let winter make your movement freeze!  Do the temperatures and snow keep you inside?  Are you afraid of slipping on the ice? After all, who wants to walk through the cold, snow and ice when bundled up like a mummy and end up on their backside from slipping on the ice?  Here are some tips to stay active and safe during the winter months.  Attitude is everything when it comes to movement. 

1.      Set a goal:  Start with setting a smart goal. Focus on what you enjoy about your fitness and health routines. Then make a goal about what you want to improve.  Choose exercises that are appropriate for your abilities and those that you enjoy. Break your goals down into categories. One may be for movement or function while another may be focused on nutrition or weight loss. A weight loss goal of 2 to 4 pounds a month will amount to 24 to 48 pounds a year.

2.      Get creative at home:  Home is where your health starts. The weather isn’t a factor when you work out at home. You can purchase a workout video, exercise equipment, or learn body weight workouts.  Exercising at home is convenient and helps to stay on track. You don’t have to worry about sharing equipment or germs with other individuals. 

3.      Try to choose activities that are appropriate for your abilities, and those you truly enjoy,”Try to choose activities that are appropriate for your abilities, and those you truly enjoy,”Try to choose activities that are appropriate for your abilities, and those you truly enjoy,”Try something new:  Take advantage of local classes or activities.  This may be a winter sport or a league. It will keep you moving, whether it is joining a class, gym, or volleyball league. Paying for an activity can keep you participating in it regularly. Making new friends and learning a new skill is an extra bonus.

4.      Meal Plan: Meal planning in the winter is very important. Decreased sunlight in the winter can trigger cravings for comfort foods. Our serotonin levels are decreased which causes the brain to tell us to eat carbohydrates, or mood lifting sweets to raise the serotonin level.  Meal planning will be essential to prevent this.  If you have a plan for a high protein breakfast and lunch, you will be less likely to indulge later in the day. 

5.      Get Excited: Focus on what you love about winter.  Write down your top 5 enjoyable things about winter.  Maybe it is that you have more time to meal plan and prepare a healthy meal.  Maybe it is that you enjoy a winter activity like skiing or sledding and enjoying a warm cup of tea or cocoa when finished.  Use the activities that you love to keep you moving. 

6.      Stay Safe and Dress Appropriately:  Be sure to layer your clothing when exercising outdoors.  This includes a thin layer to wick moisture away from the body.  Add a middle layer for warmth and an external layer to protect against the wind and moisture. Purchase a hat, gloves, or even a ski mask to cover your face in subzero temperatures.  Select proper footwear. Be sure to waterproof your shoes/boots if you are winter walking or running. If you are shoveling or skiing, select boots that keep your feet warm and dry.  Keep in mind, “it is not bad weather, it is poor selection of clothing if you get cold”. 

Bridget Barle, PT
Community Health Center of Branch County
Department of Physical Therapy
Branch Intermediate School District

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