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Staying Safe and Active as the Weather Gets Chilly

by Emily Cullen
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The warm weather this week has given us a great opportunity to enjoy a little bit more physical activity outdoors without having to worry about coats, boots, mittens, and all the accessories that go along with the winter months--but we all know that winter is coming soon!

We also know that daily physical activity is extremely important, not just for physical health, but for mental health as well. "Feel-good" chemicals in the brain, known as endorphins, are released during physical activity and help to improve mood, energy levels and even sleep.

The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each week for adults, and 60 minutes daily for children. This can be a challenging task in normal times, but add in COVID related restrictions on gyms and playground facilities, extra screen time for virtual school and work, and the approaching cold weather and you have a recipe for difficulty!

So, how do our teaching staff at Lutherwood deal with these challenges? Here are some tips we used in the spring with our virtual learners as well as with our own children and families:

1) Embrace the weather—but make it FUN!

Walking outside is great, but if you’re getting tired of that same old walk try adding a scavenger hunt component or bring your camera and take some photographs along the way to really engage your teens. If you have younger kids at home, sports equipment and sandbox toys can still be used in the winter for play in the snow.

2) Use your screens to be productive

Too much screen time isn’t good for us, but we can use our screens as tools to help us be more active. There are lots of free workouts available on YouTube--everything from Zumba to equipment-free strength training. You can also try using your gaming system to play active games as a family (like XBox fitness, Wii Fit, or Just Dance) when the weather outside is frightful!

3) Remember that every bit of activity counts!

Physical activity doesn’t always have to be heart pounding cardio--light intensity movements from at home activities like cleaning and reorganizing also have benefits. Make it fun by putting on some music or doing more challenging movements like squats while cleaning baseboards or strength training from lifting all those old boxes in the attic or crawl space!

4) Don’t skip the warm up

When you are being active in the colder months it is extra important to ensure that your body is warmed up before beginning. If you are going outside to shovel, run around with the kiddos, or playing a sport, remember to start slow to get those cold muscles moving and prevent injury from going too hard when your body is still chilly. Try walking a few laps of the yard or park until your body starts to feel warmer.

Resources/More Activity Ideas:
OPHEA (Ontario Physical and Health Education Association) to Support Parents with Physical Education at Home

Practical Strategies for Being Active Outside from OPHEA