Ways to Stay Active in the Winter

As a Canadian, I know that I am supposed to love our long, cold winters, or at least pretend to. Many of us do legitimately embrace the winter months, looking forward to the perfect beauty of a freshly fallen snow, just pure and delicate enough to sparkle under the lunar light… at 5:30 PM. They see the ever darkening days as a sign of snowy fun to come. They bundle up and brave the wind chill, seemingly unaffected by that freezing sensation in their boots and mittens, where once healthy, soft and smooth toes and fingers existed. I am certainly not one of these people.

Like the rest of us hot, humid summer loving Canadians, I have a hard time resisting the overpowering urge to hibernate every winter. I love being active and have no trouble participating in multiple physical activities every day when the weather is warm but come winter, this becomes a struggle. Winter wonder is all well and good until around January 2nd, when I wish we could all just skip right to April – this coming from someone who’s birthday is in February.

The winter wonderland cityscape gives strength to my determination to stay active through the winter months by providing exciting scenery for romantic nightly strolls with my man. For as many years as I can remember, my fiancé and I have upheld our tradition of walking around whichever neighbourhood we are currently living in just about every night after supper during the weeks leading up to Christmas. This tradition started thanks to my childish fascination with Christmas lights and continued because we had so much fun doing it. We have a nice meal, get all bundled up together for the first times of the season, when it can still be perceived as cute, and walk around the new terrain of our neighbourhood, holding hands because we don’t have our snow legs yet. Then we get to come home and warm each other up. The whole event can be very romantic.

After the holiday magic wears off and we are left in a vast winter wasteland, the fight to stay fit begins. Shovelling the driveway and sidewalk of your home is good exercise but it quickly begins to feel more like the chore it is than the fun activities you enjoyed before all this snow landed. One way to get out of the house and find inspiration for the months to come is to attend your local winter festivals. Most cities have at least one day during the season where everyone can get together and celebrate pretending to like the cold. These events always have lots of (free) cold weather activities to try; you can use this opportunity not only to fill your activity quota for the day but also to look for an activity you might like to continue with.

The easiest way to stay active, in any season, is to adopt a sport or activity that requires structured participation. During the Canadian winter many sports move indoors but they can also carry heavy membership fees. If you don’t have a favourite winter sport, this is your chance to find one. Try a new winter sport that has a small initial investment, that way if you find yourself really enjoying it you can invest more into it next year and if you don’t, you aren’t burdened with the guilt of spending so much money on equipment you never use. One example of sports that fit this criteria is ice skating, all you need is skates, which you can find used, and a frozen body of water or a rink that offers free or cheap skate days. Another example is skiing or snowboarding, where you can rent or borrow the equipment needed for your first time and then buy it later on if you get into it.

If all else fails, you can stay active and stay indoors by starting your spring cleaning early. For some reason, we all get the urge to scrub our homes the instant the weather takes a turn for the warmer. Instead of being cooped up indoors cleaning when the weather is nice enough to resume your preferred outdoor activities, you could anticipate this ritual and get started a month early when you would be hiding indoors anyway. Performing moderate intensity housecleaning chores for an hour burns more calories than an hour of yoga.

Staying active in the winter can be hard but it’s not impossible. It just takes more thought and planning to work physical activities into your day than it did when options were ample in the summer. Winter is no reason to retire from your active lifestyle. You’re never too old to play in the snow, on a sunny day with a still breeze, get all bundled up in your cute outwear and build a snowman with your boyfriend, build a snow fort with a friend or have a snowball fight with your brother.