How to stay active and moving during winter

Graphic showing the title 'How to stay active and moving during winter' CREDIT: FSU PUBLICATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT

There is no denying that finding the motivation to work out during a cold winter’s day can be challenging for some, especially when there are assignments, classes, and work to worry about. According to Made in Canada, 75 per cent of Canadians say finding the time to exercise is their most significant obstacle to becoming more physically active. Though staying warm inside sounds more enticing, there are several suggestions and strategies to help people embrace winter fitness.

“I have a lot to do during the day,” said Fanshawe student Arturo Soriano. “When I finish everything, I am drained, and the only thing I want to do is lay in bed and be on my phone. I am not into the working out mentality, but I must admit that sometimes I wish my body looked different from what it is right now, more muscular and lean.”

In the May 2022 issue of Health Reports by Statistics Canada, youth reported doing an average of two hours less physical activity per week in the fall of 2020 compared with the fall of 2018. The percentage of children and teens fulfilling the Canadian physical activity recommendation fell from 51 per cent in the fall of 2018 to 37 per cent in the fall of 2020.

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“Even if I have the energy and motivation, as a full-time student with a part-time job it is hard to find time in such a tight schedule to do some physical activity,” Soriano said.

Health and Wellness Professional and Fanshawe Wellness Centre Manager Ashlee Wilhelm said that regardless of season, people must stay active because it helps with physical and mental health.

“People who exercise regularly have better mood, energy levels, and sleep quality. When you are young, you do not necessarily think about it, but as you get older or have more responsibilities on your shoulders, it is more important to keep those things balanced,” Wilhelm said.

Wilhelm said going to the gym is an easy way to stay active in winter. She added that for people who do not like the gym, there are many recreational activities on campus, like basketball, volleyball, cricket, and badminton, which they can do indoors.

“Even if someone does not like the recreational activities available in college, walking inside the college can help. The college is a vast space, and people can get many steps walking from one end to the other,” Wilhelm said.

She stated that student life can be sedentary without working out because students spend half of their day or sometimes the entire day sitting down in classes, studying or doing assignments.

“The body gets used to that little mobility and lifestyle and loses some of its range of motion. Later reaching up onto a shelf might be hard if you are not keeping active and keeping movement,” Wilhelm said.

Soriano said he doesn’t enjoy the gym because he finds them crowded and that it is not motivating for him to exercise indoors. He stated that even though he is not a big fan of working out, he would prefer to do it outdoors.

“Sometimes what I do (but not consistently) is go for a walk or a run. I do not do it that much for exercise. I do it to distract myself. Although I do not know how healthy it is to do that in winter,” Soriano said.

Wilhelm said people can work out outside in the wintertime with the proper precautions. She said that to exercise outdoors during winter, people need to be cautious of what the weather is like and dress in layers.

“For people who like to go for a walk or run, thin layers of clothing would work because they need to stay warm and light,” Wilhelm said. “Typically, when someone is running outside when it is cold, there is a little more stress in the lungs because the body is trying not only to get oxygen but to process the cold air that is getting into the warm body.”

She said that if someone struggles to breathe and recover while running in the cold weather, they have surpassed their body temperature limit.

“That point will be different for everyone, but there is no other way to find that point than by doing it. Awareness of your breathing and your temperature limit is vital not just in winter but in all the seasons,” Wilhelm said.

Soriano said that during winter it can be challenging to stay consistent because sometimes it gets too windy and snowy outside for him to do certain exercises.

“Training with body weight at home can be equally effective as lifting weights at a gym. People might have to adjust because, if they do not feel it is heavy enough, maybe they have to do more reps or do the reps slower,” Wilhelm said. “When someone is moving bigger weights in the gym, they are just moving their body weight plus those weights.”

Wilhelm said that moving, staying active and exercising must be a part of everybody’s daily routine. She stated that everything starts with the right mindset and that setting a consistent and realistic is the first step.

“Nowadays, everybody is preaching the next quick fix. The reality of it is that it is not that simple. It does take time to get and see results. Relate what you are trying to achieve with your health and fitness goals to your lifestyle. That is the best way to keep it real,” Wilhelm said.