Sharing her thoughts on winter well-being and how to stay active, our guest blogger is Tina Bollman, Behavioral Health Coordinator at Mosaic Medical and Subject Matter Expert for the American Council on Exercise
Baby, it’s Cold Outside!
Many people find that it can be difficult to stay on track with healthy activity goals and New Year resolutions after the holiday festivities end. Coping with winter well-being and how to say active in cold, rainy or snowy weather can be challenging. And, the shorter days can make you feel tired, moody and less likely to be active. It’s all too easy to find reasons to skip a workout today and hope to do better tomorrow. However, while this may feel good in the moment, it can turn into a bad cycle.
The benefits of staying active
Regular exercise not only helps us to maintain a healthy weight but also improves our overall health, with benefits like:
- Better sleep
- Improved energy level
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower blood cholesterol
- Reduced risk of heart attack
- Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
- Develops stronger bones, muscles and joints
- Better recovery from illness and periods of bed rest
Exercise affects your mental health
Did you know that being active is also shown to change levels of chemicals in your brain? These changes have positive effects on your mental and emotional health. In fact, finding time to move and be active is practically a “magic bullet” for feeling better, immediately. It’s long been said that if the many benefits of exercise could be put into a pill, it would be prescribed to everyone!
Studies show that exercising:
- Gets your mind off of worries
- Improves your mood
- Relieves stress
- Improves sleep patterns
- Reduces tiredness
- Increases mental alertness and sharper thinking
- Brings a feeling of success and better self-esteem
- Helps you feel more relaxed and positive about life
A little exercise is better than none
Even a little bit of activity is better than none. And, this is probably the single most important thing to focus on. Short bouts of exercise, even 5-10 minutes at a time, is very helpful. You do not have to train daily at the gym, run miles and miles, or sweat buckets to become healthier. Thirty minutes of moderate exercise, (like walking, hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, dancing, or cycling) five times a week will get you all of these wonderful health benefits.
Exercising in cold weather has extra benefits
So what about these super wintry conditions? It turns out that doing outdoor activities in cold temperatures brings extra benefits. Here’s why you shouldn’t avoid getting outside in the winter months:
- Exercising in the cold can burn more calories as your body produces heat
- There is no heat and humidity to deal with, making you feel more energetic
- Sunlight exposure improves mood and reduces depression
- Cold exposure during exercise can boost immunity to colds and flu
And don’t forget those gorgeous rosy cheeks!
Stay safe and have an alternate plan to exercising outside
To stay safe while exercising outside be sure to have an alternate plan in case the weather is just too terrible. To help with that, here are Four Fun and Effective Treadmill Workouts to try, which can easily be modified for your current fitness level.
Those who suffer with asthma should check with their doctor before exercising outside in winter weather as cold air can trigger an asthma attack. And everyone can learn from these tips for Keeping Cold-weather Physical Activity Safe.
The key to winter well-being and staying active is commitment
The key is to commit to some kind of activity – even just a few minutes – on most days of the week. Making a small change today, and repeating it = a new healthy habit. Regardless of the weather, it is possible to develop habits that help your winter well-being and how to stay active. In summary, just keep at it, and the benefits of exercise will begin to change you for the better, mentally and physically!
Tina Bollman is the Behavioral Health Coordinator at Mosaic Medical. She is a Subject Matter Expert for the American Council on Exercise and holds certifications as a Group Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer and Health Coach.