I step outside before dawn to be dazzled by the diamond-dusted world lit up by our lamppost in the front yard. It’s amazing…the quiet hush of the snowflakes falling. The snow is a shimmering blanket undisturbed until my fresh footprints look like stitches on a quilt. On winter mornings like this, I’m glad I left my comfort zone to catch a glimpse of this majestic sight. Many studies show that just taking an invigorating outdoor walk for 20 minutes can improve mood, self-esteem, and wellbeing. Physically, you burn more calories keeping your core temperature elevated in the cold, plus adding resistance when marching in the snow. Often, winter is a snowplow block to our exercise routine, but here are three ways to enjoy the gift of winter’s beauty and natural benefits!
In Northern Ohio, there is a saying, “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” Layering is the key to staying warm. For cold weather, the base layer is usually a technical fabric shirt and tights under your pants (technical fabrics will sweat, whereas cotton will rapidly cool when wet). Next, the insulating layer provides warmth with clothing such as fleece, a wool shirt, or vest. The outer layer is usually wind-proof or water-resistant to protect you from the cold and/or weather elements. Don’t forget your hat to insulate your head and retain heat, gloves or mittens, and a scarf or neck gaiter.
When “walking in a winter wonderland,” proper footwear is important. Try hiking boots, trail running shoes, or walking shoes with a thick—but not heavy—sole to provide good traction and keep you safe on icy patches. In various winter weather, I’ve worn inexpensive traction enhancers, i.e., “yak-tracs” that stretch over my running shoes. These come in a variety of brands and formats. Also, make sure there is room in your winter shoes for a thick pair of socks or sometimes two pairs. If your shoes aren’t waterproof, seal them with a water sealer before heading out.
Finally, SAFELY enjoy your outdoor winter exercise with these tips!
Shorten strides to help with balance and stability. You can use walking sticks or Nordic poles to help with this.
Assume all wet, dark areas on pavements are slippery and icy, and proceed with extra caution. Plan a route on sidewalks, park trails, bike paths, or high school tracks that draw few cars.
First off, heed the warning to check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine.
Essential hydration during cooler temperatures is ultra-important. Drink 8-10 ounces of water for every 15 minutes of cooler weather exercise.
Luminate. With limited daylight, make sure you wear reflective, florescent gear. I once had a driver of a car stop me while I was running, to let me know she was appreciative that she could see me blocks away from my head to toes.
Your friends should be invited! The companionship will help motivate you and help you persevere with your exercise routine in winter’s splendor!
Sherry Leggett’s love of Health and Wellness permeates through her whole life: spiritually, as a First Place 4 Health leader at her church and physically, through her career as a Health and Wellness manager, the wife and mom of a physically active family, and her hobby–triathlons. As well as holding degrees in Sport Medicine and Sport Management, Sherry is certified by the American Council on Exercise as a Personal Trainer and Lifestyle & Weight Management Coach. You can read more active devotions written by Sherry on her blog Trimom4Him.wordpress.com.