Those feet were made for walking – or various other forms of moving around. So don’t let winter prevent you from using them. If you made a New Year’s resolution to exercise more, don’t wait until spring to begin. Winter is a fine time to make physical activity part of your day, and most days you don’t need to limit yourself to indoors. As long as you dress correctly, outside exercise is possible and fun.
Skiing (both downhill and cross-country), tobogganing, skating, snowshoeing and walking are all good forms of exercise. According to calorie tables on the Internet, an hour of moderate cross-country skiing for a person weighing approximately 150 pounds uses up about 550 to 575 calories. Moderate snowshoeing has a similar rate, while downhill skiing uses about 100 fewer calories per hour. Walking (the cheapest way to exercise) uses 250 calories per hour if you move at a moderate pace, up to 300 if you walk briskly. To lose a pound of weight, you apparently have to give up or burn off 3,500 calories. Two weeks of brisk walking just might do that! Several websites will give you calorie information. Try: http://www.nutristrategy.com/activitylist4.htm.
Outside opportunities are available all around us, without having to drive too far. Walking can be done anywhere! A brisk half-hour walk along a country road or a quiet village street can go a long way to clearing away the winter blues. Aside from that, snowshoeing is perhaps the easiest – it’s possible virtually anywhere there’s snow. Anyone with a hill nearby, even a small one, can go tobogganing, while special toboggan hills are located at Spruce Woods and Turtle Mountain provincial parks, as well as a privately run one south of MacGregor. Outside skating ponds and rinks are available at Spruce Woods, Turtle Mountain and Riding Mountain National Park (at Clear Lake). These parks and others all have groomed cross-country ski trails and snowshoe trails. Several rural clubs operate their own cross-country ski trails, such as the Birch and Pumpkin Creek trails near Roseisle; Shannondale trails west of Morden; the Brandon Hills trails; and the Bittersweet trails (the club I belong to) north of Treherne.
Whichever activity you choose, be sure you dress carefully. Most of these activities don’t require special clothing, although it is available if you want it. Don’t forget something warm for your head and for your hands. If you plan to exercise briskly, dress in layers, so that you can add or remove clothing as you warm up or cool down. Footwear is probably the most important item of your apparel, since the various sports require different types. For skiing or skating you will obviously require special skates or ski boots. For snowshoeing and walking, you can often use your usual winter boots, or even your hiking boots – that’s what I use.
If you find it hard to motivate yourself in winter, try exercising with a friend. Agree to meet several times a week for a brisk walk – and don’t finish it off with a trip to the doughnut shop!
On days when it’s too cold or stormy for outside activities, or the streets are too icy, don’t let that stop you from moving those feet. If you have a treadmill or a stationary bicycle, use that when you can’t go outside. If you live in town, you may have other opportunities. Larger towns may have a gym, or perhaps the rink is available for skating or curling. Some towns offer “hall walking” in their schools after hours, or “rink walking” during the day. Again, doing this with a friend can make it far more interesting and you’ll be more inclined to keep it up.
And now that I’ve given you all this information – well, I just have to try to practise what I preach!
– Donna Gamache writes from MacGregor, Manitoba