Keep Moving

Health tips for the season.

The shorter, darker, colder days are upon us. ‘Tis the season of making up any excuse in the book not to work out, and while it’s certainly a little harder to stay fit during winter, it’s not impossible and it’s important. People often assume that in order to stay in shape when Old Man Winter arrives, you have to join a gym or purchase a ski pass. However, there are several reasons why training outside in the cold improves both your physical and mental health.

1. Burn more calories
Your body will be working harder to stay warm, so your metabolism will rev up, meaning you’ll burn more calories and fat while your body tries to generate heat.

2. Boost the immune system
Often in the winter, our immune systems are weak and then get shot down by germs brought home from school or the office. Sticking to a routine of moderate exercise for 20-30 minutes, 3-5 times a week will strengthen the immune system. 

3. Get your vitamin D fix
Beat the winter blues by taking your routine outside into that glorious sun. Exposure to sunlight creates vitamin D, which is helpful for bone growth as well as boosting good spirits. Serotonin levels increase when our bodies are exposed to sunlight, and therefore can brighten moods especially combined with exercise.

4. Fight the elements
Working out in colder temps, snow, and variable weather climates helps your mind work on pushing through obstacles and uncomfortable conditions. It is extremely good mental training. You can’t be a fair-weather athlete around here or you may never get out at all. Embrace the misery. 

Despite the seasonal temptations of delicious dark beers, dark chocolates, and too many dark mornings that make you want to stay in bed, the goal is to just keep moving this winter. Dance classes, morning/evening walks up Peets Hill, shoveling, chopping wood, and snowshoeing are all good for maintaining some level of fitness. Experiencing the silence of a winter landscape is peaceful and stress-relieving. We are blessed in Bozeman to have a winter wonderland right out our back doors.

Jessica Tuttle is a personal trainer at the Ridge Athletic Club.