As summer gives way to fall and soon fall to winter, does your activity level go down? With the days getting shorter and the nights getting longer and cooler many we tend to want to spend their days and nights in the warmth of their homes enjoying the comfort of a cup of tea or cocoa. Granted this isn’t a bad way to spend an occasional cold winter evening but what about the winter days? Other than work or taking care of the regular household tasks, what are you doing to occupy your off time and weekends?
In some parts of the country, even the days can be bitterly cold and forbidding. On these days it’s best to stay indoors as much as possible to prevent frost bite or worse. Then there are the days that are like the picture postcards. On these days we want to be out and about enjoying all that we imagine we are supposed to enjoy. Most days though, we have to continue to live our lives as close to normal as possible. Going to work, going to the store for groceries and cleaning the house must go on as before. There may be days when we have to shovel the sidewalk or driveway because of the few inches (or feet) of new snow that fell overnight. Scraping the frost from the car windows and spreading salt on the walk so we won’t slip and fall become the everyday routine. But how do you spend your leisure time? Are you playing board games with your family and friends? Are you building snowmen or women? Or, are you spending more of your free time in front of the TV watching whatever program may be on just to have something to occupy your mind. As winter drags on it becomes increasingly difficult to have the desire to active so we stay healthy and fit.
There are a host of activities that you can enjoy during the late fall and into the winter. Many communities have recreation basketball and hockey leagues. Roller derby leagues are making a comeback. Or there is indoor swimming and minor indoor games offered at many facilities such as the YMCA. What about the outdoor activities? There are many who look forward to winter for the downhill skiing or snowboarding, sledding and skating. For lower impact activities there is cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and walking. And just for a change of pace there is always the good old fashioned snowball fight with the kids or friends.
It doesn’t matter if you choose indoor activities, outdoor activities or a combination of both to help yourself stay healthy and fit. The key is to just stay active. We have all had our bouts with winter weight gain. There are the New Years’ resolutions to lose weight and get healthy and fit for spring. Usually these resolutions are forgotten soon after they are made. Far too many go into spring with a few too many pounds and a feeling that no matter what they do, the weight gain is inevitable and we will just have to live with it. The truth is you don’t have to live with it. You just need to make the choice to stay active and maintain a healthy diet. Go skiing. Take a walk. Join a fitness class at your local YMCA. Turn off the TV. Or, if you don’t want to turn it off, make it part of your winter health and fitness plan by putting in a workout DVD (the only trick here is you need to do the workout with the people on the DVD. You can’t just watch it hoping their activity and energy will jump out of the TV and shrink your hips and belly). Just do something to keep your activity level up and you will be one step closer to keeping the winter weight off.
Keeping your activity level up not only helps you stay healthy and fit, it will make all of those winter tasks, like shoveling, a lot easier. And if making shoveling easier isn’t enough, staying active also helps to keep your immune system strong so you may not fall victim to the usual winter colds. And who doesn’t want that?
There is no denying that winter can be long and in some parts of the country very demanding. I know from years of living in the upper Midwest that winter can be the most physically and mentally challenging time of the year. I have also learned that staying active not only helps me stay healthy and fit, it helps to make the long winter seem to pass faster and I’m all for that.
So now is the time to choose if you will fall into the same cycle of weight gain and sluggishness or if you will be active so you can stay healthy and fit and be ahead of the rest when spring arrives.