The Omicron variant and new COVID-19 restrictions have closed or limited what many Canadians can do this winter. And now, many areas are dealing with extreme cold and winter storms. But it’s still important to stay active. We asked the CCA’s own Dr. Crystal Draper to add some more tips to help you get through these temporary restrictions.
When it gets cold outside, we tend to spend more time indoors doing sedentary activities and it can be difficult to stay active. It’s helpful to plan ahead and set some time aside in your schedule a few days a week to make sure you’re getting the activity you need.
To have health benefits from exercise, adults need a total of 2.5 hours of activity spread across the week, in bouts of ten minutes or more. These activities need to be moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic activities. Moderate-intensity physical activities include brisk walking or bike riding. Generally, you know your activity is moderate-intensity if you sweat a little and breathe harder than when you’re moving about day-to-day. Vigorous-intensity activities include jogging or cross-country skiing, and you’re likely to find yourself sweating and feeling out of breath.1
It’s also important to listen to your body. If you are stressed and exhausted – go for a walk or work on diaphragmatic breathing – deep breathing that helps strengthen this important muscle – and meditation. Each body needs something different.
Looking for some indoor motivation? Here are some tips on how to stay active at home:
- If you work at a desk, set alarms on your phone as a reminder to move. Sit-stand desks are a great option to consider, and march on the spot or do calf raises while standing to break the stagnation of sitting.
- Climb stairs. Deliberately add more steps to your day. Consider going up and down a flight in your home, the mall, or an office building more than once over the course of your regular daily activities. As little as five minutes can make a huge difference for your health.
- If you have equipment at home, set up a buddy system for accountability. Helps to keep you motivated and allows you to stay connected socially during lockdown.
- Use free online workouts. For example, yogawithadriene.com offers yoga videos suitable for all skill levels and ages. Additionally, if you’re a member of a gym, many have online options now.
- Get a small trampoline for low impact cardio, use a stationary bike with apps like Peloton, use a TRX or resistance bands at home for diversity and creativity in your movement.
- Write down exercises on pieces of paper and place in a jar. Pull one out every day to keep your activity interesting.
- With kids, build an obstacle course out of household items like couch cushions, pillows or cardboard boxes or set up a scavenger hunt to find items around your home. Make them race to put it back – and consider joining in on the fun!
- Get your kids involved in household chores to get them moving and participating.
Wanting to get some sunshine in your day? Check out these tips for exercising outdoors:
- Dress in layers. Insulate your body. When you can keep your body warm, it’s easier to continue being active outside. Layers also help address overheating from exertion.
- Use your daylight hours2. It’s more pleasant to stay outside while it’s still light out. It’s easy to miss out on activities when you start them too late in the day.
- Find a fun local activity, like snow shoeing, skiing, skating, or cross-country skiing.
- Sign up for a fun run. You can often find non-competitive “fun runs” in your community that are usually between 5 and 10 kilometers. You can invite friends and family to join in!
- Find an activity buddy. Find someone willing to commit to being active as often as you are and set a plan. That could be planning to meet for morning walks or afternoon workouts. Having a friend keeps you accountable.
- If you own a dog, consider taking a longer walk or a new route to keep things interesting, and give you and your pet some extra exercise.
For help on setting activity goals based on your specific musculoskeletal needs, you can always ask your chiropractor about what activities are right for you.
Whatever your activity level is, remember to stay hydrated. It is easy to forget to drink water when it’s cold out, but your body needs just as much hydration in a snowstorm as it does in a heatwave.2
Most importantly, stay motivated. Revisit your goals (or look for tips to set new ones) to make sure you’re still on track. Plan ahead and make sure you can envision your goal as you look ahead towards the finish line.
Here’s to staying active in the new year!
- Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines. Adults 18-24. Available at: https://csepguidelines.ca/guidelines/adults-18-64/
- Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. 11 ways to stay active in winter. Heartandstroke.ca. Available at: https://www.heartandstroke.com/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=ikIQLcMWJtE&b=4832209&ct=7596299.