December 29, 2022

8 budget-friendly tips to stay fit and healthy this winter

By Sun Life Staff

Temperatures are dropping, but you don’t have to drop your fitness goals. Here’s how to stay healthy, active and in shape throughout the winter.

Don’t let the cold weather dampen your fitness game. Winter offers all kinds of affordable and family-friendly ways to get moving while having fun. Maybe you’ve chosen getting more exercise as your New Year’s resolution? Here’s how you can stay motivated and find your fitness groove this season.

1. Enjoy outdoor winter activities to get moving

Sometimes it’s hard to step outside and brave the cold weather. Maybe you just haven’t tried your favourite yet. Think skating, skiing, snowshoeing and snowboarding. Stay motivated by reminding yourself that these activities are only available for a short time. And just being outside can reduce stress and anxiety, according to recent research. So dress warmly and enjoy winter while it lasts!

Look no further than your own backyard for free activities. Challenge your kids to a snowman-building competition. Or get crafty and build a snow hill for sledding. Chances are, a nearby park or schoolyard already has a snow hill. Why not head there the next time it snows? Here’s 6 ideas for winter family fun.

2. Work out at home to stay out of the cold

Not everyone loves the idea of being out in the snow and freezing cold. “This is where incorporating at-home workouts into your everyday routine can be very helpful,” says Baylee Joy, a certified personal trainer.

Joy adds that you don’t have to have an elaborate home gym to get in a great workout. “You can use lightweight equipment like resistance bands and physio balls. A variety of bodyweight exercises need no equipment at all,” she says. Think of squats, push-ups and planking. These build muscle while burning calories.

3. Find a workout buddy

Worried you’ll fall off the fitness wagon and into the winter blues? Try finding a workout buddy to keep you honest. “Get an exercise partner. It can be a friend, family member, spouse or a personal trainer,” suggests Joy. “It’s one of the best ways to stay motivated towards an exercise regime.” When you’re committed to a fitness routine with a workout buddy, you’ll hold each other accountable. This means you’re less likely to make excuses for missing a workout.

Your partner’s motivation and healthy habits can inspire you, and vice versa. “It helps if you can find someone with a real passion for fitness. Their passion has a tendency to rub off on you,” says Joy

4. Add tech to your fitness routine

Can’t find a workout buddy? Don’t sweat it. Think digital fitness coach instead. Wearables like fitness trackers and smartwatches can count your steps and monitor your heart rate. Most models even measure your heart activity and your sleep habits.

Do you have a smart speaker like Alexa? Then you already have 24-hour access to your own personal trainer. These voice-activated assistants can really help you manage your health. Think fast and effective cardio and core-strengthening exercise workouts. Chances are, your favourite exercise apps are on your smart speaker. Many of these workouts let you set your own pace, take breaks and pick your own music.

And that’s not all. Your smart speaker can also take you through guided meditation sessions.

What if a wearable or a smart speaker isn’t within your reach or budget? You can rely on your phone for advice. There are stellar fitness apps for almost any exercise routine you can think of. Many of these apps are free and offer workout options with little or no equipment.

5. Set fitness goals you’ll actually achieve

“If you’re a beginner, ease into a fitness routine so you don’t burn out quickly,” advises Joy. “Start with small realistic goals and keep incrementally setting the bar higher for yourself.”

Let’s say your goal is to run or walk 30 minutes most mornings.

  • Start with a 10-minute walk around your neighbourhood.
  • As your fitness level increases, you can speed up your pace into a brisk walk.
  • Keep picking up the pace until you’ve managed to work your way up to jogging.
  • Remember to factor in weather conditions.  Play it safe and slow to avoid slips and falls when the sidewalks are icy.

6. Plan for a safe winter workout

Exercising outdoors can be rewarding, challenging your muscles and stamina in a new way. But be cautious and remember:

  • Icy paths and pavements pose a greater risk of injury.
  • Stick to daytime hours for your workout so you can easily spot ice on your route.
  • Take your phone or smartwatch with you in case you fall and need to call for help.

7. Sneak exercise into your day

Not ready to get into full workout mode yet? Not a problem. You can still incorporate exercise and physical activity into your day. Here are some simple ways to stay fit throughout the day. If you’re already doing most of these activities, you’re off to a great start:

  • Take 5 or 10 minutes to stretch after you wake up in the morning.
  • Take a walk during your coffee or lunch break.
  • Climb stairs whenever you can.
  • Walk home from work if you live nearby, or go for a brisk walk at the end of the day if you work from home.
  • Clean up clutter in your home, making multiple trips up and down the stairs.
  • Play outside with your pets or kids.
  • Try some desk stretches at work or in your home office.

“Make a conscious effort to take every little action that makes you more active,” says Joy. “These little things always add up!”

8. Don’t stress over your New Year’s resolutions

Many people get discouraged when they veer off track early into their workout regimen, says Joy. But being active is a lifelong commitment to your health - not a quick fix.

So, don’t worry if you skipped a workout. Visible results may take time. Just pick your routine back up the next day. Keep trying new activities to boost your motivation and your metabolism. 

“We can’t always stay disciplined with our workouts and that’s perfectly fine,” she says. “Remember that healthy habits take time to develop. But as long as you keep making the effort, it’ll eventually pay off.”

Ready to get started?

You’ll find tips and information from fitness experts to help you work toward a healthier lifestyle.

This article is meant to provide general information only. It’s not professional medical advice, or a substitute for that advice

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