The holiday season brings thick sweaters and puffy coats to lockers, fewer daylight hours and more time spent inside after school, and lots and lots of Christmas cookies!
All this seasonal cheer could make you a sedentary Santa if you're not careful. But there are safe ways to stay in shape over the winter break so follow these tips to stay healthy and active while the snow is falling.
- Go Tabogganing. The ride down the hill is the fun part, and the trip back up keeps your heart pumping and gives you a great workout. Pick a smooth hill without obstructions and dress warmly.
- Try Something New. OFSAA hosts Nordic and Alpine Skiing, Snowboarding and Curling. If you haven't tried any of these great sports they're a great way to experience winter events and stay physically active. Cross country skiing and curling are both activities that promote muscle-maintenance and control, and are suitable for all ages. One of these sports could become lifelong passions if you start at a young age.
- Go Skating. There are plenty of outdoor rinks that host free skating time for people in the community to access. If you're near a frozen pond or lake make sure the ice is thick enough to be safe for skating before you pile on. If you have sticks and can get a group together, a game of shinny hockey is a great way to play as a team and keep your muscles moving.
- Develop an Indoor Fitness Routine. When it's cold outside get your walking and stair-climbing done at the mall. If you're at home you can do push-ups, sit-ups and dips on the couch, or get the most out of weights, treadmill or exercise machine you may have at home. Developing a routine and sticking to it will keep you active on cold winter mornings when you don't want to go outside.
- Yoga. Always a good activity to add to your routine, even occasional stretching can promote active living. It's an easy activity that you can do in a group or by yourself, listen to music or go fully unplugged, whatever you're comfortable with. Yoga works your entire body, makes you more conscious of your muscle structure, increases flexibility, and sharpens your focus.
- Insulate and Keep It On. It's tempting to strip off the winter layers when you get warm but don't be drastic. Then when you come inside after a winer workout, transition slowly to avoid post-exercise hypothermia.
- Be Visible. If you're a hardy winter runner who doesn't let the cold deter them from their running routine, try your best to run during daylight hours. Sunlight can be scarce in the winter so if you're out and about when it's dark, wear something reflective or bright so that drivers can see you even if they aren't expecting somebody to run past in sub-zero temperatures.
- Stay Hydrated. Drinking water in the winter is just as important as in the summer. Keep your body hydrated when you're physically active and replace lost moisture while staying cool. Don't eat the yellow snow.
- Hold the Stuffing. When you're at the table it's tempting to eat one of everything for a holiday feast. Instead think about what proteins, minerals and nutrients are on your plate and what you really need. Full is full. In general, less meat and more greens is a recipe for health, and many small snacks can catch up with you. Walk it off.
- Prevent Getting Sick. All of these tips for nutrition and physical activity won't count for much if you're down for the count with a cold. During the season of runny noses and coughs, staying active helps keep your immune system firing and prevent illnesses. Wash your hands, eat healthy and get plenty of sleep. Mothers everywhere would agree.
Best of all... staying active has been linked to benefits in educational development, mental health, and creating a balanced lifestyle.