Hello Winter! Winter is inevitable in Central New York – and it is here! It comes every year without fail. It can be a very tough time of the year for all of us. Some of our favorite recreational activities and ways to stay fit are no longer feasible and we are left stuck indoors!

Staying active during the winter months is tough! As the temperatures drop, exercising and staying active becomes more challenging. This can weigh heavily on our bodies and minds. Wouldn’t we all rather curl up on the couch with a good movie or book? However, physical and mental activity are very important to help maintain overall health, especially since winter in CNY can last for so many months in a row!

There are so many health benefits of regular exercise. Your brain is a muscle too, so mental exercise is just as important to keep up your health and a good attitude throughout the winter (and all year!)

Exercise can cause the brain to produce and release endorphins. Endorphins help to improve mood, outlook and can even combat depression and anxiety! Regular exercise also helps to reduce the symptoms of chronic pain (and possibly even prevent it), increase energy levels, improve immune system function, boost memory and even help you to sleep better. Exercising both your body and your mind are just two ways to maintain a balanced lifestyle.

It’s never too late to start some good habits! Here are a few ways to stay active this winter…

  • Take a walk.  Fresh air does the body good. It can be very difficult to go for a walk in the ice, slush and snow. Mall walking is a great opportunity to walk in a climate controlled environment. Bring a friend! Talking while walking helps to improve cardiac and lung function as well. It can also be a great opportunity to connect with family and friends or meet someone new.
  • Join a fitness center.   Set up a time to exercise with a friend or make a new friend at the gym.
  • Take the stairs when you can.  Anywhere that offers elevators or escalators to climb from the floor to floor also has stairs. Opt for the stairs whenever you can. It’s a great way to get some extra steps in and help maintain fitness level through the winter months.
  • Park Farther Away.  As long as the conditions outdoors in the parking lot aren’t too slippery, try parking farther away from the store or business. This is another great way to get some extra steps in for the day. Parking lots are bigger/longer than you might think!
  • Schedule regular time to catch up.   Give yourself something to look forward to! Schedule time with with family and friends – dinner, games, movies or just a phone call.
  • Try Yoga or Tai Chi.  This can help to connect mind and body
  • Find a new hobby that challenges you.   Get Creative with this! Ask friends for ideas or search local community event listings for ideas too. This is a great way to keep your mind and body challenged on a regular basis. If you have never been a skiier or tried snowshoeing, give that a try on a mild winter day. Many local parks offer rentals of equipment at a reasonable price.
  • Call someone.  Don’t be afraid to just pick up the phone and connect. It does a body and mind good
  • Read a book.   Reading has so many benefits for the mind. Ask a friend what they’re reading or join a book club in the community or online for added challenge and stimulation for the mind.
  • Play a Game or do a Puzzle.   There so many great board games, card games and puzzles that can challenge the mind. Play with a friend too!
  • Set goals for the year.  You should never stop learning or trying to improve yourself. If you stop growing, you stop LIVING!
  • Take a break from the screen.  Put down your phone, device or laptop for at least 30 minutes a day. It’s good for your eyes, brain and posture too! Talk with a friend, read a book, do something around the house. The winter can be a great time to do deep cleaning or purging & organizing around your home.
  • Drink plenty of water.   Staying hydrated is just as important in the winter as the warmer months. Just because you may not be visibly sweating when you are out in the cold, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to hydrate.
  • Avoid the extra calories.  It’s hard to say no to Holiday Food. Set a goal to eat at least one meal that is healthy and avoid high calorie and high fat foods then. No one is perfect. So start slow and give it a try. Consult your Physician for more advice that would be tailored to you specifically.