Staying active is essential to your mobility, health and happiness.

Over the months of winter many of us in Kelowna will choose to stay indoors, as the decreased hours of daylight and cold air makes getting cozy in front of the television more rewarding than going for a walk.

As physiotherapists we see the benefits of keeping active through the winter months in our patient’s level of fitness and mobility, and help reducing their potential for muscle strains, lower back problems, and poor postural habits due to inactivity. There are a variety of winter activities that provide solid strengthening and a good cardiovascular work outs. In Kelowna you can ski, skate, snowboard, snow shoe or go sledding. And both walking and running are great ‘all season’ sports!

Although winter can be an excellent time of year to stay active and maintain fitness it can place extra demands on your system. Weather conditions and external temperatures can change rapidly, so it’s important to be well prepared to get maximum pleasure and benefit.

A few cold facts on dressing and preparing for winter workouts:

  • Dress in layers. There are a number of fabrics that help ‘wick’ moisture away from your body and help keep you warm (and dry). Top off the layers with a lightweight, breathable, windproof jacket that will protect you against cold, wind, rain or snow;
  • Cover your head. Wear a hat to minimize heat loss from the head and neck. As much as 50% of your total heat loss is through the head and neck;
  • Protect your hands and wear moisture wicking mittens or gloves. Mittens provide more warmth than gloves because warm air is able to circulate freely around all your fingers at once;
  • Extend your warm-up. Slowly warm-up to increase your heart rate and circulation. Your performance and flexibility will be better, and your risk of injury will be lower; and
  • Drink water! It’s harder to gauge how much sweat you are losing when it’s cold outside, so it’s easy to become dehydrated. Fluid replacement is essential!

For those who don’t like the cold but want to stay active, there are many indoor options.

  • Go for a walk around the closest shopping centre. This can be a good way to
    get some exercise, as well as enjoy other people’s company;
  • There are a range of fitness centres in Kelowna that offer individual or group programs that are geared to your needs;
  • Many of our local pools have ‘aqua fitness’ programs for all ages, and community recreation facilities offer a variety of programs that promote cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength; and
  • ‘Housework- outs’ are a great way to maintain mobility – so include your weekly clean up in your overall plan to stay active in winter!

Staying active and mobile during the winter months can significantly maintain and improve physical and emotional health. For the greatest overall health benefits, we suggest 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise three or more times per week plus muscle strengthening activity and stretching twice a week.