It’s difficult to maintain the momentum of staying active during the winter season, when weather becomes a serious factor and holidays bring lots of food and not much energy. For many people, summer and spring–and even fall months–allow plenty of opportunities to get outside and enjoy the sun and fresh air, meaning we tend to stay more active then even if it’s just be accident. When we slow down during winter, our bodies take a toll, and more than that, our moods and energy levels do too. Staying active does more than just help you stay fit; it also elevates your mood, helps you battle depression and anxiety, and gives you a goal to work toward.
It’s important to remember that the winter months don’t have to mean hibernation, and even if you can’t get outside, there are plenty of ways to get up and get moving without even leaving the comfort of your own home. Here are some of the best.
Utilize your house
Have a staircase at home? Use it to your advantage by running up and down the steps several times at a steady pace. Wear comfortable running shoes and be careful not to get tripped up if the steps are carpeted.
Chores are another great way to stay active. It may not seem like it, but hauling baskets of laundry up and down the stairs, cleaning windows, vacuuming, and doing the dishes really add up over the course of a day. Keep a good pace and remember to lift with your legs when moving anything heavy.
Go for a walk
As long as the weather is decent, head outside for a brisk walk. Getting the kids or dogs involved will help you stay motivated. Just make sure you stick to sidewalks or clear trails, especially if you’re out after snow has fallen. Bundle up and wear good gloves and boots.
Build up a home gym
It sounds expensive and overwhelming, but you can create a nice home gym without buying a lot of fancy equipment. Treadmills are great, but so is a simple bar to do chin-ups on, or an inexpensive yoga mat. Check out this awesome list of easy ways to make your home an active one.
Try something new
Ever wanted to try a sport, such as hockey or skiing? Depending on where you live, it might be easier than you think. If you’re not sure where to start, check with the local YMCA or fitness club to see if they offer any outdoor programs in wintertime.
Make playtime active-time
If you have kids or young family members, make it a point to get outside and play. Build a snowman, fill plastic squirt bottles with water and food coloring to “paint” the snow, or go sledding. Staying active and getting fit doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun at the same time.
Staying active doesn’t have to be a warm-weather event. Just remember to dress warmly, stay hydrated, and wear sunblock when you spend time outdoors, even if the day is overcast.
Jennifer Scott is an advocate for opening up about mental health. She has experienced anxiety and depression since she was a teenager, and has used this experience to help others overcome it.