For many of us, winter snows have arrived. With more snow on the way, your Habits of Health might need a few adjustments, especially if your Habits of Healthy Motion are largely built outdoors.
Part of our mission to create longevity means preparing for common pitfalls and preventing disease and injuries wherever and whenever we can. Winter brings a few challenges that you should plan for:
- Mind your heart – Cold weather can cause your arteries to contract, putting you at risk for a cardiac event, especially if you are doing something strenuous like shoveling snow.
- Respect the weather – Dress the part for the weather outside, including hats and gloves if necessary.
- Watch your step – It’s no secret that ice is slippery, yet dozens of people get hurt each year. Wear boots or shoes with good tread when you’re outside, and try to avoid walking on ice.
- Bring backups – Stash an extra set of your winter gear in your car with your other car safety equipment. That way, if you’re out and need to bundle up, you aren’t far from a warm jacket.
Winter is a wonderful season, and none of this is meant to scare you. Instead, think of this like all of the things you do to prevent disease – like eating healthy, staying active, and seeing your healthcare provider for regular checkups. A little bit of winter preparedness can go a long way!
Fun (and Healthy) Snow Activities
I try to spend as much of my time outdoors as I can. In the summer, I love to sail with my daughters. In the winter, we go skiing. Thanks to the Habits of Health, I’ve even been able to heli-ski, which is where you ride to the top of a mountain in a helicopter and jump out to ski down. The young guys on the trip with me couldn’t believe how hard it was to keep up with someone twice their age!
But your winter fun doesn’t have to be as adventurous. Here are some ideas to keep your Habits of Health strong when the weather is cold:
- Go for a walk – Yes, we just talked about the dangers of ice, but many parks and towns diligently maintain paths and sidewalks, giving you the chance to enjoy a new version of your favorite scenery.
- Try snowshoeing – For something new, try strapping on a pair of snowshoes so you can go deeper into nature, whether or not the trails are plowed. Remember to follow outdoor safety guidelines when you go – tell someone where you are going, bring water, charge your phone, and go with a guide when possible.
- Go cross country skiing – This is the same idea as snowshoeing, but if you are comfortable on skis, this can be a lot of fun!
- Try a new indoor activity – If playing in the snow doesn’t appeal to you, you could try a new healthy activity instead. Take a yoga class, or pilates, or a martial art, or pickup basketball. You have a lot of options to choose from.
Don’t let winter slow you down. I hope this brief list of ideas and tips will help you to enjoy the unique opportunities that the season offers, and maybe you’ll pass me on the ski slopes!