A true Nova Scotia winter is upon us, and that means snow, wind, and the ever-dreaded slush. Days are short, dark, and grey, and with the holiday season’s excitement behind us, it’s easy to look ahead and feel nothing but cold and dull. You might already be beginning to dream of spring, or wondering how you are going to survive another winter storm. You may even be coming down with a case of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), and longing for the lighter and longer days ahead. Luckily, there are lots of things you can do (and avoid doing) to maximize and enjoy the winter experience. If you have your essentials that no Nova Scotian or Canadian should be without (snow boots and a shovel), then you’re ready to start enjoying the winter season, and keeping active too!
First and foremost, it is often tempting and easy during the coldest time of the year to avoid exercise, since the outdoors are much less inviting during this time of year. However, neglecting to move your body and get fresh air will only serve to darken your mood further, and staying cooped up inside, however tempting it might seem in the moment, only adds to the fire of the winter blues. Instead of staying inside with cabin fever, and if you can acquire the right weather-appropriate layers, then get outside for a walk, three neck warmers and all. Try giving yourself an incentive and walk (or trek) to a coffee shop for a warm drink or two. Coming home to a movie night or board games by the fire is even better after a day out in the cold.
Next up, an essential Canadian activity that is not only necessary, but can be great exercise too: shovelling. Unless you live in an apartment or have some very nice neighbours, there’s simply no avoiding it for most Canadians. But on the bright side, shovelling can help keep you strong and active. Plus, the fresh air is good for you; many people do not get enough fresh air or daylight in the winter, which can contribute to your body and mind feeling more tired than usual. Consider shovelling for your neighbours as well, particularly ones less able than you. Clearing a path for them provides more exercise for you, and they will really appreciate the extra help.
There are also lots of fun and active activities you can take advantage of only during the winter. Head to a hill and go sledding (it’s free!), or try skiing (downhill or cross-country) or snowboarding. If you have a dog, don’t let a winter storm stop you from walking them; strap on snowshoes and head on out! Winter is a time when you can experiment and try different types of exercise. Both skiing and snowboarding are excellent leg, core, and balance strengtheners, and usually give you access to some truly beautiful scenery.
Believe it or not, sledding can also be an exceptional workout as well as excellent fun. After zipping down a hill, trudging back up pulling a sled can be pretty adequate cardio. What’s not to love? It’s free and it’s great for the legs! Also, since sledding is an outdoor activity, this means you are getting the benefits of the outdoors and of natural light, both of which help to boost the mood and have a positive affect on your mental health.
If you don’t have any equipment whatsoever, a free way to have fun and keep active during snowy weather is to head outside, take advantage of a heavy snowfall, and build a fort or snowman, no matter what age you are. It gets you outside, keeps you active, and of course, it’s fun!
It’s not always easy to remain optimistic in the face of adverse weather. It is true that cold and snowy weather can make life more difficult, but it can also make it more fun. Spring weather will be here soon, but for now, enjoy the winter weather and all the pleasant activities it brings!