Staying Active This Winter to Support Mental Health
January 30th is Bell Let’s Talk Day. In case you haven’t heard of it, this initiative is borne out of a need to have more open discussions about mental health in our country. The goal of Let’s Talk is to fight the social stigma that surrounds mental illness, which often prevents people from seeking the help they need.
January is the perfect month to talk about mental health, as it is often dubbed the most depressing month of the year. With months of bitter cold still ahead and lack of adequate sunlight, January can seem long and depressing. Combined with pre-existing mental health issues, such as seasonal affective disorder or depression, this is the worst time of year for some. Combatting depression in January is a multi-pronged approach that combines talk therapy, proper nutrition, possibly pharmacotherapy, and most definitely exercise. Here are some ways to stay active this winter.
Get the Right Equipment First
If you have the right outdoor gear, you can no longer use that as an excuse not to go outside. Embrace your sense of play and get down into the snow. Buy snow pants, waterproof boots, and a warm, waterproof jacket if you don’t have one. You can’t expect to break a sweat if you’re dressed wearing clothes that are only meant to keep you warm for the thirty seconds it takes to get from your front door to your car. Arming yourself with outdoor garments that keep you warm will immediately make winter seem more inviting.
Whether it’s cross-country or downhill, skiing is a wonderful winter activity that you can enjoy alone or with friends. It’s a great cardiovascular exercise that engages all your major muscle groups while being low-impact. Cross-country skiing may not seem that intense, but you’ll likely wake up the next morning feeling pains in muscles you didn’t know existed.
Spending time in nature is proven to be therapeutic but accessing the woods in your backyard or nearby conservation area is incredibly taxing in the winter time. Snowshoeing lets you enjoy those trails again by stopping you from sinking through the snow every time you take a step. Snowshoeing is also a low-impact cardio exercise that gives you the added benefit of reacquainting yourself with nature. Don’t forget your binoculars for bird watching, and walking poles for better balance.
As we get older, we lose our sense of play. Children are a great example of embracing all that winter has to offer. Since there’s no age limit to having fun, there’s also no rule that says that adults can’t go tobogganing or sledding too. Depending on where you live, sledding can be as inexpensive as the one-time cost of a sled. While the ride down the hill doesn’t burn many calories, it releases plenty of feel-good hormones like endorphins. The real calorie buster is climbing back to the top of the slope while hauling your sled and trying not to slip.
The key to promoting mental health in the long days of winter requires us to get up and start moving. Rather than hide away from the snow and cold, embrace it! Fighting winter by staying inside can lead to a sense of boredom and depression. Leaning into winter by taking advantage of what it has to offer is not only a great way to stay in shape, but it also promotes mental health.
Shop online for our line of fitness supplies and start moving! What are some ways that you stay active during the winter? Let us know in the comment section below.