Winter is upon us, and with less daylight, icy roads, and colder temperatures, it can be a challenge to keep active.
The Canadian Academy of Sports and Exercise Medicine, through it's 'Exercise is Medicine' initiative, recommends that all adults aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week. This may sound daunting to some especially during the winter when the options seem more limited, but if you break it down to 22 minutes per day, then you realize that you can sit around and be sedentary for the remaining 23.5 hours per day!
So what are some good options for winter activities?
Swimming is a great way to keep active, especially if you suffer from arthritis in your hips or knees, and if your weight is limiting your ability to exercise. Canmore's Recreation Centre (Elevation Place) offers daily public swim times.
Stationary cycling is an excellent option in the winter months - you can even watch your favourite show, or listen to your favourite music whilst at it. We have a wealth of fitness centres and gyms in town, or you can purchase your own stationary bike or wind trainer.
A brisk walk on the downtown trails is a great way to spend a few minutes, so long as the trails aren't too icy. Yak-trax or similar devices attached to your shoes can give you more confidence in snowy conditions.
Cross country skiing at the Canmore Nordic Centre, or further afield, is an excellent all over body workout, and the Nordic Centre offers rentals and lessons, if your skills are a bit rusty.
Snowshoeing is another great cardio workout, and the Bow & Spray valleys offers a number of ideal locations within a half hour's drive of Canmore.
Exercise specialists also recommend incorporating some resistance exercises into your routine, twice a week. This can involve free weights, body weight exercises, or elastic tubing type exercises. And if you have problems with balance, then exercises designed at improving your balance, are a good idea. A certified fitness instructor or physical/athletic therapist can advise the most appropriate activities.
Above all, it's important to have fun, and to find activities you enjoy, and which you are more likely to stick with. Start slow and short if your fitness isn't great, and be sure to check with your health care provider that an exercise program is appropriate for you. A referral to our Primary Care Network supervised exercise program may be suggested if you have certain health problems.
Aim to start at 10-15 minutes per day if you're new to exercise, and increase by 5 minutes per week. If time is at a premium, look for ways to incorporate physical activity into your day - park your car a bit further away, walk to work, take the stairs rather than the elevator, take a walk at lunchtime with coworkers, get your family involved too.
There are a myriad of health benefits, regardless of whether you lose weight, and studies have shown that cardiovascular disease, mental illness, diabetes, and cancer risk are all reduced with regular physical activity. And if you're pregnant, exercise is likely safe too, but check with your doctor or midwife. Aim for the magic 150 minutes per week, more if you can, but remember that anything is better than nothing!