I have to admit that when the days grow shorter and the temperatures drop, I have a compelling urge to put on my cozy clothes, get comfortable on the sofa, and make catching up on my favourite Netflix series my top priority.

Now I’m not saying this isn’t ok to do from time to time, but the truth is that nesting indoors for the entire winter is not only impractical, but it is also not healthy.

 

Negative health effects from lack of movement begin to appear in only two weeks.  [1]

 

McMaster University right here in Ontario conducted a study on the effects of inactivity on 65 year olds.  Shockingly, in just two weeks, insulin sensitivity of the participants decreased by up to one third and they lost up to 4% of their leg muscle – just by decreasing daily steps below 1,500.  Even scarier was the finding that the individuals studied did not regain their muscle even after returning to their normal routines.

 

#MOVE IT OR LOSE IT

 

We know other negative health effects of inactivity include increased body fat, poor sleep quality and poor mental health so it’s important to make a plan to get moving.

I’m all about optimization so I like to boost my health by exercising outdoors as much as the weather permits.

Exercising outdoors in colder weather not only give you much needed exposure to natural light, (see my Winter Survival Tip # 2) but can also increase your endurance and transform white fat, such as belly fat, into calorie-burning brown fat.

 

#BROWN FAT IS YOUR FRIEND

 

And we also know that getting outdoors into nature can:

  • Reduce stress
  • Improve your mood
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Reduce eye strain
  • Boost creativity

So I suggest making the best of these long, cold months and committing to staying strong and healthy.  And, as my maternal great-grandmother used to say, “your not made of sugar” so in other words, you won’t melt in the rain or the snow!

 

Here in Ottawa, winters are long and harsh so getting outside takes some planning.  Here’s how I make it happen:

  • I check the weather forecast and plan to be outside on the sunniest days, even if it is just for a 30 minute walk.
  • I’ve invested in some good cold weather gear
  • I always check to see if there are any cold weather advisories before heading out (yes, that is a thing here – it can get too cold to go outside safely!).
  • I also find it helpful to walk with a friend which helps me stick to my plan and makes the whole experience so much more enjoyable.
  • I pick activities I enjoy.  I’m not a skier so hitting the slopes in freezing temperatures is NOT going to motivate me.  However, I do enjoy snowshoeing, hiking and skating so that’s what I do!

 

As always, I’m here to help if you need some help getting motivated to move.

 

Photo by Simon Berger on Unsplash

[1] https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glx203