Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Snow Days

Morning run, Campbellford Ontario, November 27, 2013.
When winter arrives many people immediately retreat indoors. Perhaps they will become human Popsicles in the cold? Melt in the rain? Snow seemingly gives us collective permission to set up camp on the sofa in track pants and fuzzy slippers. You know the ones.

And you know the problem with track pants right? It's the goldfish bowl theory. Like goldfish your body will grow to fit the limits of your confine. And track pants are a stretchy confine so we all know how big that can get. In December your sweats have that casual slouchy post work-out look. By April those suckers are stretched to their maximum tensile capacity and look more like saran wrap on a balloon. It's not pretty. 

In most of Canada avoiding any kind of winter weather keeps you locked indoors for four, maybe six months of the year. This seriously reduces exercise and activity as well as fresh air and, dare I say it, FUN. Yep. You heard me. Fun. You can have fun outdoors in the winter. It's true. 

About 12 years ago I was moving back to Ontario from Vancouver. I asked the advice of a couple of Quebecers about how to endure the winters. After all, these folks were seasoned experts on the cold stuff. I still remember our conversation every year as winter approaches. They told me not to "endure" winter but to embrace it. Find some activities that I would like doing, get the right gear, and get out there. Have fun! Try different things. Play. 

Well those folks were right. My first winter back in Ontario was one of the "worst on record". There was so much snow that the drifts at the end of my driveway were taller than me. But I got my gear on and headed out with some cross country skis and discovered that at the end of my street was a beautiful provincial park with miles and miles of skiing. That winter DingoDave and I had a ski before work three or four mornings a week. For me that winter became the "best on record". And it's been like that every year since. 

DingoDave giving me the "let's go" look.
As adults we sometimes forget to have fun or experiment. Even those of us who are active can get obsessed with run times, mileage, or winning the game. What if the objective is just to get outdoors and do something most days rain or shine? To have fun with your dog/partner/kids? To have a good laugh?To capture 30 minutes of day light and avoid cabin fever? What if you make a new playlist on your iPod and rock out to Aretha Franklin as you walk or run your route?

You don't have to be athlete of the year to go outside. Pretty much anyone can walk. You do need to get the right gear. A jacket that protects you from the elements. A hat that covers your ears. Perhaps Yaktrax grips for your shoes. Gloves to keep your fingers warm (so you can turn up the volume when Aretha is belting out "R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.....(backup) Oh, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me...."). You definitely need reflective clothing or a light so you can be seen by drivers. 

After you've had some fun then you can come inside and hit that couch. Cuddle up by the fire with a book or a movie. You've even earned the right to wear the track pants and the fuzzy slippers. 

Reflective jackets keep you safe.

Don't forget your dogs might need snow gear too.

Thanks for reading Getting Healthy With NP Sam. Comments welcome - please click the pencil icon below. 


Anonymous said...

I live in the city and fear the cold. Yes...fear! The only way I can get myself outside, voluntarily, is to make my destination a local coffee shop about a kilometre away where I know a steaming cup of tea or hot chocolate awaits. Loved your article though...because aside from exercise the daily walk really helps me with winter blues. I suppose getting a dog would be a good idea for someone like me. Only thing is, I wouldn't be walking the would definitely be walking me!

Thanks as always for these blogs! This one just reminded me to get off my duff!

Mel .

Anonymous said...

Good article Sam. As you said anyone can walk...and no matter how fast you go, you're still lapping everyone in track pants on the couch! Rain or shine.

Keep the suggestions coming. Love the blog.