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Winter Fitness

HOW TO ADD MORE MOVEMENT TO YOUR ROUTINE IN THE MIDST OF WINTER  

Being in the middle of winter, especially with our unpredictable weather patterns, it can be difficult to stay active. It seems like winter has this power of making us want to stay indoors and hibernate. With the increase hours of darkness in comparison to the spring and summer months, in addition to the bone chilling temperature, our drive to exercise and sometimes our moods dwindle. However, this is the time our bodies need us the most! The following list is comprised of ten options on how to stay active this winter! 

1. Take the stairs! Elevators may seem more appealing, but your body will thank you for the extra steps you take to get to the office!

2. Park further away! This is of course weather depending, but if it is a nice winter day parking further away can allow you to take those extra steps as well as provide you with an opportunity to take a few deep breaths before starting your work day.

3. Dedicate a portion of your lunch to activity! This may be difficult depending on your time frame you have allotted for lunch, but even taking 10-15 minutes to move can help get the blood pumping, lubricate your joints, and benefit your cardiovascular health (if done so in bouts of 10 minutes or more), and help clear your mind. Here are a few ideas for activity at lunch: 1) walk (indoors or outdoors), 2) climb the stairs, 3) group workout (if you are luckily enough to have a common space), 4) if you have to go home to let an animal out - go outdoors with them!

4. Changing your position every 20-30 minutes! We did not evolve as human beings to sit on our bottoms! For those of you with desk jobs, something as simple as standing up to help offload your joints every 20-30 minutes may save you from low back pain/aches. If you are lucky enough to have a sit to stand desk, or have the option to have one, use them! Remember prolonged stationary standing is not good for us either, so making sure you weight shift, or sit down to interrupt your posture will help combat any constant strain on your joints. As one of my university professors, Anne Fennety, once said, "Your best posture is your next posture!"

5. Prepare yourself for the weather! We live in Canada people so wind chill and snow is inevitable. Dress warm in layers, making sure you keep your neck/head, feet and hands toasty but breathable. With the unpredictable weather patterns (snow, rain, and ice) make sure you use grips on the bottoms of your shoes, or any walking aids (cane, walking poles, etc.) to help prevent falls.

6. Take advantage of nice weather! When we have warmer temperatures and the sun is shining - get outdoors! Especially here in the Chaleur Region, we have a lot options for outdoor activity. Go snowshoeing, cross country skiing, walking, etc. The fresh air, sunshine and exercise will make you feel physically and mentally rejuvenated!

7. Exercise Indoors! Look for indoor exercise options in your community. Many gyms, indoor soccer stadiums, churches, arenas, etc will have open walking times - sometimes even for free.Other options include local gyms, sport groups, yoga, senior exercise classes, and more. Take advantage of these! 

8. Work out at home! You do not need much equipment. YouTube and other online sources can provide quick exercise programs for all activity levels. Just make sure you specify what you are looking for: aerobic vs. strengthening or a combination of both, intensity and impact level. If you are unaware of what exercise is appropriate for you, consult your family doctor, physiotherapist, etc.

9. Start a step count challenge! In the office, with friends, or family having a fun step count challenge on a weekly or monthly basis can help motivate you to move more. Friendly competition may be just what you need to get you moving a little bit more this winter. 

10. Exercise with a friend! Having someone to do your activity with will likely hold you more accountable to whatever form of activity or exercise you choose.

In Canada winter can be the longest season depending on where we live. As previously stated, this is the time that our bodies need us the most. So this winter try a few of these tips to help get you moving more! Your body and mind will thank you.  

Author- Brittany is a physiotherapist who graduated from Dalhousie University in 2016 with a Master’s of Science in Physiotherapy. Her main clinical interest is neuro science and restoring functional movement patterns. She is a firm believer in the mind-body connection and enjoys incorporating this throughout her treatment sessions. Her treatment philosophy is to help people become more aware of their bodies, their physical stressors and abilities in order to help them get back to their work, family and activity.