With dwindling daylight and competing priorities, this time of year can be especially challenging to focus on physical activity. However, with some planning and creativity, you can have a fun and festive season and a health-boosting physical activity routine. Here are some ideas to stay active this winter. Choose the ones that make sense for your life, and add in your own strategies, too!
Do what you love!
When it comes to physical activity, everything counts! Dance to your favorite music, play outside with your kids, or go for a bike ride on a beautiful day – being active while doing something you love is a great way to get movement in while having fun. For inspiration, check out the Activity Planner on the Department of Health and Human Service’s Move Your Way website.
Use your imagination
Let your imagination bring some fun, whimsy, and physical activity to your day. Build a pillow fort with the kids, or toss rolled-up socks as “snowballs”. Use an app or video with beautiful sights and sounds to imagine your stationary bike is riding through a spring countryside, or your stationary rower is paddling across a summer lake.
Walking with your dog or housemate can add some companionship and fun to your outdoor routine. Use technology to include friends in your activity, perhaps sharing post-workout pictures or doing virtual walking challenges together. Check out these ideas for staying active while social distancing.
Go on a virtual vacation
Dreaming of different scenery than what’s outside your window? Incorporate those daydreams into your physical activity! While on the treadmill, listen to a podcast about the culture, food, or environment of a place you’d love to visit. Watch a documentary about a place you’ve never been, and march in place, do squats, or sit-ups while you learn.
Brighten the mood
Wear colorful clothes and brighten the day of those who see you. It just might encourage them to get out and move, too! Also, during the darker days of winter, it increases safety when you make yourself visible with bright colors, reflective material, and lights. Visit the Mayo Clinic’s Winter Fitness: Safety Tips for Exercising Outdoors page for more ideas to keep you warm and healthy during activity.
Enjoy the present
Take a mindful walk, using all of your senses to notice and appreciate the season. No matter where you are walking, feel the weather, smell the air, see the landscape, and listen to the sounds of your surroundings. Tune into the present moment, and put a pause on thoughts of the past or plans for the future.
Break it down
Getting the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week might seem like a lot, but breaking it down into shorter intervals can make it more manageable. Take advantage of small moments—time between meetings, waiting for the oven to heat up, or even commercial breaks!—to move your body. Remember, small movements can add up to big health benefits!