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How to stay moving for optimal health and wellness in winter!

When it starts to get colder outside, many of us find it harder to maintain our exercise routines and healthy lifestyle habits. There is something about warm weather that makes it easier to get outside and get moving and apply holistic health strategies. And I have to admit, going running doesn’t look very attractive when the streets and trails are covered in snow, ice and slush, the wind is blowing cold. There can be a temptation to take the winter off our exercise routines and start up again when spring and warmer weather comes back – like some of feathered friends, who “fly south” for the winter. 

But what if we look to some of the other critters who have cold-weather exercise nailed? Nature gives us plenty of inspiration if we’re looking for ways to keep our move routines going, or even enhance them in the winter. If we get our mindset right and use the tools we have available, we can stay fit all winter. We can stay on top of our healthy lifestyle habits. We just need to watch what some of our furry friends do.

Here are 3 inspirations for holistic healthy living tips:

1. Move like an arctic fox … Run, walk and hike in the snow! This beautiful animal is perfectly adapted to run and jump in the snow. They dress warm all over their body and their feet. They turn the far north winter wonderland into their personal outdoor gym. So, get dressed properly and get moving outside (such a great boost for your holistic lifestyle habits!). It’s possible to run, walk and hike even when it’s cold, snowy and icy. Tips: Wear breathable layers, a wind-and rain-resistant outer layer, breathable gloves or mittens, and a hat (I can not go without it!!!). If it’s really cold, wear a balaclava to protect the skin on your face, and extra warm (breathable) socks. Normal shoes are fine as long as you are not running through deep snow. If the snow is deep, then it might be time to switch to a winter activity (see next section!) to ensure optimal health and wellness even then!

2. Move like a snowshoe hare … (yes, that is an actual animal!) It’s cross-training time! And like the snowshoe hare, you can adapt yourself and your gear to the deep snow and enjoy some winter activities. Snowshoe hares have extra large hind legs and paws, perfect for gliding on top of the snow. When the snow is deep, put on your snowshoes and take up one of the fastest-growing sports. Or put on your skates and go skating. We are lucky in Toronto to have public skating rinks all over the city, and I can feel the work in different muscle groups after a few laps of skating. Or enjoy cross-country skiing, which is arguably the best possible cardio exercise and a great full-body workout – holistic healthy living at its best! Whatever you choose, you’ll get your cardio benefits as well as the chance to work on some different muscles. And the joy of taking advantage of winter and the fresh, cold air will leave you feeling happy and healthy. 

3. Move like a hamster … and turn your home into a gym! If you haven’t already, find a space in your home and turn it into a mini- (or maxi-) gym for you and your family. There is a lot you can do to work on your overall fitness – with just a small space and a yoga mat. Winter is a perfect time to get focussed on your strength and especially your core strength. Optimal health and wellness starts with a balanced move routine – so make a point of using the colder months to bring balance to any Move routines that may have been too focussed on running, cycling and other outdoor cardio work. Find an app or an online training program to help get you started and get crunching, planking, burpee-ing, squatting, curling, pushing up, and so on. Don’t get cold, get strong! 

My last advice – make like all three animals and mix it up, outside and inside. And integrate your overall healthy lifestyle habits into your plan. The colder months (for those who experience them) can be very enjoyable when it comes to move routines. There are some fun activities that need snow, like skiing and skating. And there are plenty of ways to beat the winter blahs, stay fit, and boost your mood with exercise. Enjoy! And please share your best winter MOVE ideas with me on Instagram or Facebook.

Be well and have fun mixing it up,

Barbara

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