Dress For Success

10/19/2022 | Wendy Billings, Sr. Physical Therapist


How to stay active in the fall and winter months!

As the weather turns colder and daylight gets sparse, fitting outside fitness into our regimen can get tricky.  Besides the falling temperatures, motivation may also take a dip.  Add in Covid-19 and the Flu, and this only challenges us further.  The following tips can keep you moving and grooving until spring arrives, so you don’t find yourself digging out of a “fitness lull” or health slump because of the cold winter months.

Reasons why we struggle in the winter

The weather!  Fitness outside in the winter can serve up big challenges.  Consider swings in temperature, precipitation, and wind, making wardrobe selections tough and falls a risk if we choose to stay moving outdoors. The hours of daylight are also shorter which can impact folks who struggle with Seasonal Affective disorder. Colds and Flu can sideline even our best intentions. The best strategies for success involve dressing appropriately, having a plan in place, using the right gear, and responsible decision-making.

Dress in layers 

There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear!  Continuing to get outside to exercise in the winter can be helpful in terms of social distancing, along with getting additional Vitamin D for our bones and mental health.  Think about dressing in layers this way; as you are moving you have options to remove layers if you warm up. Keep some spare gear in your car if you are out at local parks or trails. Gloves, gaiters, wool socks, hand and foot warmers, or even under layers of cotton can be helpful. It’s a good rule of thumb to start out a little chilly, knowing that you will warm up as you begin moving.  Folks who need to take special consideration to stay indoors below freezing temperatures are those with circulatory and severe or chronic breathing issues.

Slips, trips, and falls 

Walking poles, “YAK TRAX” (anti-slip covers that fit on boots and shoes) can help us gain some traction if we are walking outside. If daylight is shortened, headlamps to light paths can also be advantageous. If balance is a challenge OR if bone strength is less than ideal, make the safe choice and pick an activity that is more predictable inside until the weather complies.

Have a plan

If outdoor exercise is not appealing or possible, plan for ways to stay moving.  Seek out indoor pools, exercise classes, gyms, or exercise videos that improve accountability. Have a plan to walk the mall with a friend, take the stairs at work, park further away from entrances, or even bring a yoga mat to stretch in your office.

Know when to rest

It’s no surprise that colds and flu rise in the fall and winter seasons as we live and work in closer proximity to others. A general rule of thumb:  if you are exceptionally tired then rest.  Fever: rest.  Symptoms below the throat such as a cough and mucus, rest.  And, don’t forget to talk with your COPC physician today to discuss your vaccine status in order to keep you healthy.

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