It’s no secret that it can be harder to get your physical activity in during the winter. Whether it’s snowing sideways or below zero degrees outside, wintertime can bring many obstacles when it comes to achieving your recommended physical activity. Adults should be aiming to get in 30 minutes or more of physical activity a day most days of the week, and kids should aim to get 60 minutes a day or more. During the summer it can be easier to get the activity in with yard work, riding bicycles, going on walks, and playing outside with kids, but what about during the winter?
Find Your Outdoor Winter Hobby
You might have a handful of summertime hobbies you enjoy doing, but what about a winter hobby outdoors? Shoveling snow would definitely count as a form of physical activity, but there are a lot of other fun winter hobbies to choose from that can get your heart pumping. Some more common activities include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, sleigh riding/snow tubing (walking back up the hills to slide down), ice skating, downhill skiing, snowboarding, and the list goes on! Pick one or more things you enjoy doing, to help keep your physical activity level up during the winter months! Having an outdoor winter hobby can also help you obtain some vitamin D naturally from the sun, which is always a bonus! If you’re not into any of these activities outdoors you may like to join a gym, attend group fitness classes, or watch online workout videos in the comfort of your warm home!
Dressing for physical activity outdoors can be tricky. Proper layering can help you stay warm and prevent you from overheating as well. Personally, I’ve been on quite a few snowshoe trips where I wore way too many layers for the conditions, and then you’re stuck packing around your extra clothes the whole time. To help prevent over-or underdressing be sure to check the weather before going out, and layer appropriately so you can pull a layer off if you’re getting too warm.
Pack the Right Gear
Always use the right protective gear for the activity you’re out enjoying. This could be a nice pair of socks while cross country skiing to prevent blood blisters, or a helmet, chest protector, and knee/shin guards while snowmobiling. Being prepared with the right equipment up in the mountains can help prevent tragedies.
Winters around here might not be bluebird every day but be sure to pack/use sunscreen on those nice days you are out for multiple hours because that brilliant white snow acts as a reflector back at your face making the sun extra powerful. Use a hat and sunglasses on those extra sunny days to help guard off the negative effects of the sun.
Fuel to Perform
Whether you’re planning a quick trip or an all-day adventure, it’s important to remember to pack fluids and food to fuel your body. A 1% dehydration status can affect performance, so don’t forget your water for activities that are less than one hour, and a sports drink for activities lasting longer. The weather can take a turn for the worst really quick out there, and you want to be prepared with extra food and water wherever you might be.
Written by University of Wyoming Extension- Cent$ible Nutrition Program Educator Shelley Balls, MDA, RD, LD
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC