‘For everything there is a season…’ Ecclesiastes 2 3:1
In New England, we are blessed to see a different aspect of God’s beauty in every season. Just because it is cold outside, doesn’t mean we have to be relegated to indoor exercise and activities. Getting outside is so beneficial for our mental and physical health and well-being (vitamin D, helps beat depression and our bodies burn more calories in colder weather.) Here are a few things to consider prior to braving the cold!
Choose your clothing
Swedish parents have a saying they often repeat to their children: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”
Layer up! Three layers of clothing is a great way to trap the warm air that your own body produces. However, not all materials are created equal when it comes to winter layers! Avoid cotton as it is a poor insulator and absorbs moisture. Look for merino wool, silk, or synthetics like polyester. Consider the same material choices for your hats, gloves, and socks also. For footwear, insulated, waterproof boots are a good choice, and be sure to allow enough room for two layers of socks. Investing in hand and foot warmers can be a good toasty option as well.
Choose your activity
Walking is one of the easiest ways to engage in physical activity. A lot of body heat can be generated in a brisk outdoor walk!
Hiking in the snow can be great fun! Choose a trail that is familiar as trail blazes may be hidden by snow or ice. Try something new — consider snowshoeing on a familiar trail.
Looking to try skiing this year? Consider taking a lesson or go with an experienced skier on a beginner trail.
Shoveling snow counts as an activity! Keep reading for some tips on safe shoveling.
Whichever the activity is, start off slowly to warm up, and be sure to choose the warmest part of the day. Be aware of the forecast for the day to avoid being outside when rapidly changing weather conditions are expected. If stretching prior to activity, be sure to warm up the body and avoid bouncing while stretching.
Since roses aren’t in bloom, slow down and take time to stop and smell the evergreens! Spending time outside in colder weather does take more effort in planning. Even if just going out to do errands, leave extra time to avoid slips, trips, and falls. High-traffic indoor surfaces can easily become wet and pose a risk for falls. Leave plenty of travel time as well as there may also be increased traffic on the roads or hazardous road conditions.
Aside from slips, trips, and falls, injuries can occur due to improper techniques when shoveling snow, climbing ladders to hang seasonal decorations, or even climbing stairs indoors or outdoors to take out or put away decorations.
Shoveling snow – bend knees and hips and be aware of the position of the body when shoveling. Take frequent breaks to perform some gentle backbends to counteract forward bent postures. Try to go outside for short periods of time frequently, rather than waiting until the end of a snowstorm
Ladders – be sure the ladder is sturdy, always have a spotter, and take time to move the ladder when necessary rather than reaching away from the ladder when hanging lights (or removing them).
Indoor stair climbing – be sure lights are on, take one box at a time, consider asking for help if possible, slow down and take one step at a time if necessary.
We often associate warmer weather with the need to stay hydrated, however, our bodies lose the same amount of moisture during the winter as in the summer. Remaining hydrated allows our body systems to work most efficiently. Dehydration can weaken our immune system as well as cause fatigue.
Finally, take time every day to be grateful for the season. It might be hard for those of us who love the beach, flip-flops, and swimming, but living in the present moment and being grateful for things we do have this season helps beat the winter blues.
‘If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” Anne Bradstreet, early American poet.
Author: Pamela Mongillo, Physical Therapist with MyCatholicDoctor
Editor: Samantha Wright, Director of Education and Online Resources with MyCatholicDoctor
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