Home / 50+ Lifestyles / As winter approaches, stay active with these precautions
winter approaches healthy simple
Couple exercising in winter. Photo: Pexels, Julia Larson.

As winter approaches, stay active with these precautions

As cold weather approaches that means it’s time to cut back on outdoor activities and hibernate during the winter. Right?

Not so fast.

“There is a seasonality to physical activity levels,” said Elizabeth Salerno, a behavioral scientist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis who specializes in physical activity research. “So, if you feel your activity routine slipping as the weather turns, you’re not alone. And there are ways to maintain movement despite the cold.”

Keeping up routines or maybe even building on them is one of the best things people can do for their health and overall well-being. Activity, even modest amounts, helps lower the risk of conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. Exercise also can improve mobility, quality of life and mental health, which can be particularly important during gray winter months. A mix of strategies can be effective.

“I think it’s important to have an ‘activity menu,’ or a list of exercise options that are suited for different moods, seasons, life phases and the like,” Salerno said. “Whenever you find an activity you enjoy, add it to the menu. This allows us to be flexible and stay active even when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.”

Making exercise and activity plans with other people is a great way to build social support and increase the likelihood of choosing something off the activity menu. “Having a workout buddy helps provide accountability, enjoyment and encouragement — all of which are important year-round, but especially so when it is cold and dark outside,” she said.

Salerno offers these tips to help stay safe and comfortable when activities take people outside during fall and winter:

  • Stay hydrated. This should always be a priority, even in colder weather.
  • Wear layers. Lightweight, moisture-wicking layers should be closest to the skin. Outer layers should be insulated and weather-repellent. And don’t forget warm gloves, socks and a hat.
  • Choose appropriate footwear. Be sure it has good traction for wintry conditions.
  • Plan for the weather. Check the forecast so to be prepared or able to change plans and move inside if necessary.
  • Meet up with a workout buddy. On top of making activities more enjoyable, having a partner helps add some peace of mind when working out in colder weather.

“Know yourself,” she said. “Find the activities that bring you joy, and you won’t stop at a little cold weather to fit them in.”

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice


Leave a Reply