Active Living in Winter
Baby, it’s cold outside! Staying active during the winter months can be tricky. Wind, precipitation and down right freezing cold can make even the most active families seek refuge inside. With the right attitude and a little creativity, winter can be a fantastic time to foster personal wellness by mixing up your activities, trying new things and enjoying being outside. Check out these seven tips for staying active and beating the winter blues!
1. CHANGE YOUR MIND
Winter isn’t just about cold weather, it’s a whole new season to explore! Embrace the raw beauty of the barren landscape by photographing it (as my daughter did here, #livelokai), painting it or sketching it. Check out my friend and mentor, Ed Kelley, for ideas about seeing the natural world through the lens.
If you’ve never been a winter fan, start focusing on what you do love about it and how this time of year provides new opportunities to support your personal wellness. The big idea is to bundle up and get outside!
2. TAKE UP A WINTER SPORT
Whether it is downhill skiing, racing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing or boarding, you’re never to old to try something new—or reconnect with an activity that you haven’t enjoyed in ages. These are all great options that burn mega calories and don’t “feel” like a workout. Embrace your competitive side and put a whole new twist on the winter season in your neck of the woods.
Want to be active outside with a little less competition and more contemplation? Take your yoga practice outdoors on mild winter days. The cooler air combined with meditation and breathing exercises brings a whole new dimension of practice to your yoga experience.
3. GET OUT & PLAY
If winter “sports” aren’t your thing, try “playing” instead. Take a neighborhood walk, urban stroll or plan a winter hike. You can burn quite a few calories playing outdoors.
4. SET A BIG GOAL—AND SOME LITTLE GOALS
If winter weather leaves your motivation to exercise colder than the freezing temperatures outside, heat things up with a challenging new goal. For example, introduce planks into your morning routine. Planks are “a great total body exercise that is efficient, effective, can be done anywhere, and progressed or regressed to fit any fitness level.” Already a part of your practice? Set a goal to increase your time on the mat. I like watching fun videos on my iPhone (placed on the floor under me) while assuming the position. Helps take my mind off the burn and keeps me from straining my neck when holding the position gets more difficult. Here’s one of my favorites from Postmodern Jukebox. Who doesn’t love a base-playing man-bun duet!
Another indoor activity that I fell in love with in the nineties is cardio boxing. Whether working out with a sparring partner or a bag, cardio boxing is a fast paced, adrenaline rush, heart-pumping activity. Stress? Gone. Work anxiety? Forgotten. Tension anywhere in your body? Relieved. Hit an end-of-the-day slump? HECK NO! For me, this is the perfect transition activity from a fast paced workday to family time. Cardio boxing is my reset button. Put on your favorite jam and pound it.
5. THINK RESTORATIVE
Rather than hibernate, think restorative habits. Activities like yoga and tai chi can build strength, increase flexibility, and help you relax. Register for a class, rent/purchase/download videos or apps. Or, tune in to your favorite exercise channel for some guided instruction.
Got little ones running about? Introduce them to yoga, and reap the benefits for a lifetime. There are a number of great yoga videos for kids. Make it fun and watch their physical and emotional resilience grow with them.
6. ATTEND TO THE INNER YOU
Being active is more than a physical activity—it’s an opportunity to strengthen the inner you. The most significant wellness practice that I’ve maintained for over twenty years is meditation. That is the intentional space that anchors every other aspect of my personal and professional life. No equipment, specific “fitness” level or experience required—just you and a quiet space.
7. GET EXCITED
If you’ve never been a winter fan, start focusing on what you do love about it and how this time of year provides new opportunities for your fitness and well being. When all the activity is over, reward yourself with some R&R. Try bird watching, embrace the time inside by cooking a family meal (no TV or electronics), read the book that’s been neglected, or simply enjoy the view. When it comes to living a wellness lifestyle, it’s all in the attitude.