Exercise is the fountain of youth, some say, and if you’re planning a winter getaway this year, sports such as skating, skiing and snowshoeing are great forms of exercise that are also enjoyable. However, cold temperatures, snow, ice and fear of injury may discourage some people from getting outside and being active. Dr. Jane Aubin, Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis (Toronto), offers these tips for engaging in and enjoying winter sports:
- Don’t hibernate: physical activity promotes health and reduces pain from many chronic conditions in winter as well as summer.
- Winter sunlight enhances vitamin D production for bone health, but remember the sunscreen.
- If you can’t stand the cold or have conditions that make outdoor exercise difficult in cold weather, get active inside. Set up a home gym with exercise videos, or play interactive games like Wii Fit or Wii Sports. You can even make shopping or window-shopping an exercise: do some power walking laps around big box stores or the mall.
- If you have fragile bones or joint conditions such as arthritis, try snowshoeing or cross country skiing on the flats or building a snowman rather than skating or going downhill skiing. Also keep in mind that resistance training for bone and muscle health is a good idea all year.
- Be prepared: wear boots and shoes with good traction and warm socks.
- Move during TV commercials – get up and down from your chair, dance, do a couple repetitions up and down stairs. Remember you can get up to 20 minutes of exercise during an hour-long TV show.
- Frostbite can occur on exposed skin: watch for numbness and don’t rub exposed areas vigorously – that can damage skin. Get inside and gradually warm the affected areas.
- Warm up before you start – and warm up again if you stop for any length of time.
So, get active during the winter months. It will not only keep you in shape, but could also have a positive effect on your mood and could have you looking and feeling younger.