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Don’t Hibernate! Tips for Staying Active During the Winter Months

Today's guest blogger is Madison Eiberger, Healthy Community Coordinator at the YMCA of Greater Kansas City. Madison assists with coordinating the operation of the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program and the Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program in addition to helping develop strategies related to e-Referrals and Chronic Care Management. Madison is a graduate of the University of Missouri Kansas City with a degree in Health Sciences.

The start of a new year is such an exciting time! It’s a time to set new goals and shake off the worries of the past year. As we all know from these last couple weeks, it is also a time for cold weather and illnesses to make their rounds! It seems as though when it’s cold many people take on a “human hibernation” mentality and hunker down to ride out the cold weather. To many, Netflix and couch

binging seem more appealing than being physically active - or going outside at all - but staying active in the cold has surprising benefits! It will leave you feeling more rewarded, energized, and fulfilled than Netflix ever could.

Staying active when it’s cold outside will build stronger muscles, improve your mood, and keep a resilient immune system. The cold weather also has some added benefits to your work out: you burn more calories since your body has to work harder to regulate your body temperature. So for all of you who have made resolutions to be more active - good for you! Getting out the door is the hardest part, everything after that is simple.

Here are some tips to help you stay safe while being active this winter:

Be active when it’s warmest

  • Aim for being physically active outside midday - this is usually when it’s the warmest.

  • Don’t forget the sunscreen - just because it is cold doesn’t mean you can’t get a sunburn (especially if you are on the mountain skiing).

Drink plenty of water

  • Drink water before, during, and after being active - even if you don’t feel thirsty! You can still get dehydrated in the winter.

Dress appropriately - from head to toe

  • Head: Wear a stocking cap or earmuffs. A significant amount of your body heat is lost through your head

  • Body: Dress in several thin layers - you can always remove a few layers as needed.

  • Full length long-underwear or tights on your legs.

  • T-shirt, long-sleeved turtleneck.

  • Well-vented wind jacket with a zipper.

  • Hands: Wear mittens or gloves.

  • Feet: Wear well-insulated socks.

  • Wear shoes or boots that keep your feet warm and dry and give you good traction - so you don’t slip.

  • If you will be outside in wet areas be sure to pack a second pair of socks, just in case.

Plan your route

  • Tell someone your route and when you’ll be back.

  • Wear some form of ID.

  • Avoid ice patches.

  • Go out against the wind and come back with the wind.

On those days it’s too cold to go outside you can always take advantage of the INDOOR equipment and group classes located at your local YMCA!

This winter challenge yourself to stay motivated during the cold days and be active! “You will never regret a workout, but you will always regret skipping one.” Not only will you look and feel better, staying active when most people are hiding out inside is something to be proud of!

To all winter exercisers, happy new year! Have fun and stay safe!

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