Like it or not, cold weather is on its way. When the temperatures drop, it changes the way many of us exercise outdoors. But despite those frigid temperatures, experts say exercise and a little sunshine all year long can work wonders on your health.
Allie Henderson, Wellness Coach for Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah says just because colder weather is here, doesn't mean you need to hibernate. Even if you aren't into extreme winter sports, there are still many things you can do to stay active when it's snowy and cold.
One of Henderson's biggest tips? "Start early. You want to take advantage of the daylight. It's little bit shorter right now and you want to be done by the dark."
Another tip that can make a big difference when it comes to getting active in the cold - bundle up, but do it in layers. "You’re going to want to have three layers, just so it’s easy for you to shed layers or add them back on, to make sure you stay warm, comfortable and dry."
Just like in the summer months, when you go hiking or snowshoeing in the winter, you should go with a friend or at the very least tell someone your plans. And while Utah's snowcapped mountains are stunning, it's also important to be mindful and aware of snow and avalanche conditions. If possible, make sure you carry an avalanche beacon in case of an emergency.
You should also bring along water in a thermos to keep it from freezing, and plenty of snacks to help keep your energy up. "Your energy needs are actually slightly higher because you’re burning more calories in the cold, so you might want to pack a little extra food," says Henderson.
Health experts say that 30-60 minutes of exercise plus 20 minutes of sunshine per day equals a pretty solid defense against Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D., which can affect many Utahns. Henderson says, "Exercise for anyone in general is good, but especially for those who find themselves getting depressed in the winter months."
Moving your body releases endorphins, which reduce pain and trigger a positive feeling in the body. "It makes you feel good. It also leads to increased self-esteem, improves your sleep and reduces anxiety," says Henderson.
So bundle up, gear up, and get outdoors this winter. With so many winter activities for every skill level, Utah really is a great place to get active outside, no matter the season.