You know how important exercise is to your overall physical health, but did you also know that exercise is just as vital to your mental health? Exercise helps you sleep better, relieves stress, and boosts your memory and mood. Physical activity has also been shown to positively affect those suffering from anxiety as well as many depressive disorders. That’s one of many reasons why it’s so important not to let cold weather, or any other factor, interrupt your healthy exercise regime.
But how can you keep active outdoors when the mercury dips low?
Embrace Winter Sports
Maybe you can’t bike twenty miles while there’s ice on the paths, but you still can get some exercise. Skiing and snowboarding are two exciting ways to enjoy the great outdoors, but they can be pricey options and difficult to maintain on a regular basis. Alternatively, you could take up cross-country skiing, or it’s inexpensive and increasingly popular cousin, snow shoeing. Also check your local ice skating rink to see if they offer pick-up hockey games for beginners.
Embrace Winter Fun
You don’t have to travel far from home to enjoy the winter outdoors. Sledding, snowball fights, building a snowman, snow-tubing, or building a snow fort with your kids are great ways to get outside and fit in a little exercise. Less fun is shoveling snow, but it is still a rigorous work out. Check out your town’s website to see if the municipality allows ice skating on local ponds.
With a good pair of snow boots, you can walk anywhere, and the extra padding you’ll need to stay warm will soon have you sweating. A regular, brisk walk in a nearby park or around your neighborhood will keep your exercise regime on track.
Embrace The Japanese Practice Of Shinrin-Yoku
Known to English-speakers as “forest bathing,” Shinrin-yoku involves walking mindfully in the woods. Some research has shown that the practice offers restorative and rejuvenating benefits, including a reduction of stress and a boost in the immune system.
No matter what outdoor exercise you choose, be sure to dress in layers, drink plenty of fluids, and know the symptoms of hypothermia so you won’t risk staying out too long in the cold. Also consider alternating your outdoor winter exercise with indoor options such as spinning, Zumba, yoga, or swimming in an indoor pool, especially during periods of extreme freezes like polar vortexes.