By Daphne Baldwin Kornrich, MS, RDN, CSOWM, CDN
Oh, the weather outside may seem frightful, but a winter walk can be so delightful!
There is something about the crisp cold air especially with the bright sun shining down that can be so invigorating. Physical activity is important during all seasons but let’s be real, keeping up with our physical activity in the winter doesn’t sound so appealing especially when it can be very cold and dreary. However, winter is not the time to stop being active just because the temperature dips. We need to continue to be active throughout the seasons. When venturing outside in the colder weather, it is important to have the right attire. Layering of clothing is especially important when it is cold because it keeps us insulated and warm. Add a blustering wind or snow and it will feel much colder. Layering helps trap heat and keeps us more protected from the cold. Hats, scarves, and gloves also provides protection in the colder weather, and not only do they keep us warm but also protects our exposed skin. (1)
Winter outdoor activities are fun, and not only do they burn calories, but they also help boost our immune system and mood along with providing us with some vitamin D. (1)
Remember to keep hydrated in the cold weather. Thirst is not always reliable for letting us know when we need fluids especially in the winter.
Here are some outside activities:
- Raking leaves
- Ice skating
- Skiing/cross-country skiing
- Snow tubing
- Building a snowman
Other fun activities that you can do inside during the winter months:
- Roller skating
- Walking in the mall
- Hitting the gym
- Indoor Swimming
- Indoor Pickleball (a combination of badminton and table tennis and tennis)
- Indoor golf
- Indoor tennis
When extreme cold temperatures or physical limitations make going outside not an option; limit sedentary time spent binge-watching your favorite shows or indulging in high calorie comfort foods and beverages. Try some activities at home to keep you moving.
- Virtual workouts… there are so many to choose from via YouTube, apps, and online
- Chair yoga
- Resistance band and hand weights
- Home gym equipment: elliptical, treadmill, stationary bike (ex: Peloton)
- Climb the stairs
- Wall pushups and sit-ups
- Vacuuming and cleaning the house
- Turn the music on and dance away the pounds and feel better
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week to improve health and quality of life. (1)
American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you see your doctor before engaging in moderate or vigorous exercise if:
- You have heart disease, kidney disease, or type 1 or 2 diabetes, but no symptoms, and you don’t normally exercise
- You have any symptoms of heart disease, kidney disease, or type 1 or 2 diabetes.
Please remember: Shoveling heavy snow increases our blood pressure, heart rate and constricts our blood vessels, which puts us at greater risk for a heart attack.
Barry Franklin, PhD., FAHA, one of the leading experts of the science behind cardiovascular risk and snow shoveling, reports:
“The impact of snow removal is especially concerning for people who already have cardiovascular risks like a sedentary lifestyle or obesity, being a current or former smoker, having diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure, as well as people who have had a heart attack or stroke,” he said. “People with these characteristics and those who have had bypass surgery or coronary angioplasty simply should not be shoveling snow”. He also recommends that those at less risk need to be cautious, go slow and take short breaks. Additionally, when shoveling, push the snow rather than lifting and tossing. Using a snow blower can also raise heart rate and blood pressure but not as rapidly. (2)
Remember that winter time is not the time to stop being active. Keep moving and find things you enjoy which will help your mood, stress, weight management and overall health!
Daphne Baldwin Kornrich, MS, RDN, CSOWM, CDN has been a registered dietitian nutritionist for 30 years, working in a wide variety of clinical and outpatient settings. She specializes in Bariatrics and Weight Management.