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7 Tips to Stay Active When it is Cold and Dark

The weather is getting colder and the days are getting darker. It is possible (and even enjoyable) to be outside in colder weather. It just takes a bit more effort. Here are 7 tips I have used to stay active in the colder, darker months of the year.

Outdoor Activities

  • Be Visible
    • Flashlights, headlamps, or bike lights are essential for outdoor activities.
    • Wear Reflective Gear – choose light colors or consider a reflective vest, glow-in the dark stickers, or reflective leash/collar for your pets.
    • Be mindful of the light provided by streetlights or roads along your route.
    • Make sure you are in a safe area without a lot of traffic and move off to the side when a car/truck goes by.
    • Bike with traffic and walk/run against traffic.
    • For longer workouts, let someone know where you are going. There are several running, biking, and hiking apps that can provide real-time location and maps of your location.
  • Dress in layers. 
    • It doesn’t take high-tech gear to stay warm but there are some basic rules that are helpful. Layers are really helpful to keep you warm and protected from wind/rain/snow/sleet. Find out which part of your body needs to stay warm for you to enjoy being outside. For me, it my hands and ears. If they are warm, I can do anything. If they are cold, I am miserable and start complaining and want to go inside.
  • Adjust Your Schedule Consider changing your schedule so that least 1 workout or active session a week is done in daylight. Switch up routine days or times so it doesn’t seem so monotonous. Start your workout or activity before sunrise so it finishes when the sun is coming up.
  • Drink Water This rule still applies in colder weather. You may not realize how much you are sweating or how much energy you are using so make sure you drink water before and after your activities. For longer runs, bike rides, and hikes, you will want to bring water and food/snacks with you on your activities.
  • Find Your Joy I love Christmas lights and festive displays so I make the time to walk the dog or run in neighborhoods with light displays during December. It makes the world seem less dark and cold.

Indoor Activities

  • Be Active Indoors.  Try out an activity you haven’t done before, get a month-to-month membership at a gym for the winter, find a rock climbing club, or a Silver Sneakers class, or join in on a local community center.
  • Have a Backup Plan Some days are too cold, too dark, too rainy, too windy, too snowy.. too much to be outside. So have a backup plan. Do you have an exercise app? Do you have a favorite YouTube fitness channel? Have that plan written down or the app downloaded on your phone/tablet/SmartTV so it’s ready when you need it.

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