How to stay active when outdoors = pain

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T’was the night before Christmas and all through the house, every person was moving and stretching about. CIker-Free-Vector-Images via Pixabay, manipulated by Lee Lim

Even though wind chills dip below -40C, there are resources to beef up your winter indoor workouts

The winter season is often difficult when it comes to staying active. However, staying active makes up one of the most important ways to improve our mental and physical health according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, consistent physical activity helps improve balance as well as lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes and many types of cancer. Moreover, staying active strengthens bones and muscles, lowers blood pressure, and assists in ensuring your mind stays sharp as you age. The CDC recommends 150 minutes per week of physical activity. The good news is that whatever activity you choose is up to you and your wellness goals.

“Many activities count, such as walking, running, or wheelchair rolling. […] You can break that up into smaller chunks of time or spread your activity out during the week. […] Try 30 minutes a day, five days a week” says a statement by the CDC. The reality is that some of us do not have the resources to work out five days a week. Everyone is different, and I personally think three days a week works just as great for me.

            The CDC recommends taking nature walks, as it allows one to connect with their surroundings and get fresh air daily. An important aspect of staying active in the winter months is figuring out what is the right attire to wear. The CDC recommends wearing several layers of comfortable attire. This ensures that you can remove any items once you feel warmer. According to Harvard Medical School, winter workouts are a crucial way for you to get exposure to sunlight which might prevent seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that affects some people during the winter months.

If you are someone who enjoys nature walks during the winter months, it is still important to wear sunscreen. The sun’s rays are still out in the winter even through gloomy, dark, cloudy days. Harvard Medical School recommends at least SPF 30 for minimum coverage.

            If you are someone who does not enjoy being outside in the cold, then there is definitely the option to work out from home with online video guides. There are hundreds if not thousands of workout videos dedicated to every form of exercise there is. You can jump rope, practice Pilates and build strength, or there are many forms of yoga depending on whether you require low intensity or high intensity workouts.

As the weather changes, the mood and energy shifts. Seasonal changes are very pivotal to many cultures. There is a reason why certain cultures focus on celebrating the winter solstice each year. As the weather changes, the ability for us to get vitamin D and sunlight decreases. The sun is extremely powerful in its ability to bring forth many changes to the human body. As the weather gets colder and colder, the chance for seasonal depression increases. Furthermore, it becomes harder to remain active.

I can’t speak for others; however, for myself, I find that the seasonal change allows me to live life on slow mode. It almost feels like I have no energy for anything and would much rather stay indoors and cuddle up. What we seem to forget is the importance of staying active during the winter. There is no need to overwhelm yourself, however it is important to identify what kind of exercise works best for you. Some people require high intensity workouts whereas others are better off with low intensity workouts. Moreover, it is necessary to pinpoint what you love to do. That way, staying active will not feel like a tiring chore you have to do every day. Instead, it will feel like a hobby, a way to re-connect with your mind, body, and brain. It will be a way to get your blood flowing and your body sweating.

In December, I decided to create a journal to help me identify my health, wellness, and fitness goals for the new year. I wanted to understand how I could focus on building healthy habits and staying active as the weather cools down. In that moment, I had remembered a yoga instructor I always turn to, and for me that is the YouTube channel Yoga with Adriene. Adriene Mishler is a yoga instructor who offers many classes for everyone interested in the practice at beginner to experienced levels. Whatever your fitness goals are, there is something for everyone. For 2023, the theme is centre. This is a journey that focuses on strengthening the entire body with the core especially in mind.

“Designed for whole-body mental health, this 30 Day Journey is yoga for the here and now. […] This series is suitable for all levels, and offers modifications and enhancements for individuals far and wide to practice in a way that invites transformation, healing, and strength from the inside out.” Mishler emphasizes.

The instructor encourages viewers and participants to expect to learn new things, to get real and deep in the practice, and to focus on self-care through yoga, meditation, breath work, self-massage, affirmation, sweat, stillness, and laughter.

What I enjoy most about the 30-day yoga challenge is that even on days where you might not be up to it, you can still sit on the mat and do some stretches. We are not robots, and there will be days when we might need to take a step back and recoup. This challenge offers viewers the ability to go at their own pace in an environment where there is no judgment.

The ball is entirely in your court. Furthermore, I appreciate the challenge of consistency. There have been days where I had to skip my daily yoga. However, this is not a time to hang in the towel; rather, it is an opportunity to get back up the next day and continue right where I left off. Ultimately, that is what makes staying active unique to each person. It is an opportunity to build healthy habits and work on yourself. It is an opportunity to heal your mind and body.

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