Winter has arrived in the Maritimes, and the cold temperatures and snowy weather make it all the more appealing to curl up on the couch and stay inside. If you’re like us, you know it’s easy to get caught up with a warm drink, binge-watching TV shows on Netflix. However, this is not conducive to a healthy lifestyle, and while it is great to enjoy a good movie every once in a while, when it becomes too routine, it can have detrimental effects on our health. From Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), to weight gain, to stiffness and weakness, winter can be hard on both our bodies and our minds.
Getting outside and/or staying active can help combat these winter blahs! Here are a few of the many health benefits of spending time outdoors in the winter months:
- Absorbing the sun can give you a natural boost of vitamin D, which is essential to developing healthy bones, reducing inflammation, and promoting a healthy immune system. It also helps increase serotonin levels to improve mood. Living in Canada, many people do not get enough Vitamin D, especially in the winter, so getting outside for even 10 minutes is beneficial.
- Staying active can help reduce the effects of SAD, such as depression, anxiety, weight gain, and lack of energy. The combination of activity and sunlight gets the blood flowing, improving physical and mental health, mood, and energy levels.
- Of course, activity also helps improve overall health, by contributing to weight loss or maintenance, reduced risk of certain diseases, and improved muscle strength and function.
- Finding something you enjoy doing can make the long winters more tolerable!
It’s so important to keep moving, and if you can do it outside and get some fresh air, even better! Let’s get outside and enjoy some of the many activities that Nova Scotia has to offer.
- Skating: The Emera Oval in the Halifax Commons offers free public skating and has skates and helmets available for use at no charge! There are also a number of indoor and outdoor rinks that offer public skating. When the weather is right, some of the lakes are also suitable for skating!
- Downhill skiing/snowboarding: With a variety of ski hills scattered throughout Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, there are many options for a ski/snowboarding day-trip. It’s a great way to spend some time in the outdoors, get some exercise, and enjoy the snow!
- Cross-country skiing: At lower impact than downhill skiing, cross-country skiing is a great full-body cardio workout! It is an activity that can be enjoyed by all ages and fitness levels, as you can control your pace, and stop to rest and enjoy the scenery whenever you need to.
- Snowshoeing: Similar to cross-country skiing, snowshoeing is a great activity for all ages and fitness levels. At Sugar Moon Farms, you can rent snowshoes to explore their many trails.
- Walking: With so many walking trails in Nova Scotia, the hardest part might be deciding where to go! There are plenty of parks and trails in the HRM, such as Shubie, Point Pleasant, Long Lake, Kearney Lake and Salt Marsh Trail, for you to enjoy the nature and outdoors. If you don’t have the time for such an excursion, even a 10-minute walk around your neighbourhood can have a positive effect on your health in the winter.
- PLAY in the snow! Getting all dressed up (in winter coats and snow pants) and going outside to just play in the snow is a great way to enjoy the winter. You can go tobogganing at your favourite hill, build a snow man, or make snow angels in the front yard.
If the outdoors isn’t your thing, there are plenty of indoor activities that will keep you moving and stimulated as well.
- Rock climbing: Rock climbing gyms are increasing in popularity and can be a good way to get some exercise. In the HRM, you can try rock climbing at Seven Bay Bouldering gym, Dalplex, or Ground Zero Climbing gym.
- Axe throwing: Axe throwing is also becoming a more popular activity. At Timberlounge in Halifax, you can test your target skills by tossing an axe at a bullseye. There are axes of varying weight to chose from, so this activity can be enjoyed by anyone 19 or older.
- Curling: Curling is a fun social sport that requires some balance and accuracy, but ultimately can be enjoyed by all! There are Learn to Curl programs throughout the HRM to learn the basics, but then it’s all about playing!
- Hot yoga (or any kind of yoga)
- Gym or home exercise programs
- Learn a new skill: Sign up for a class to learn a new skill. It can be anything from a cooking class, to an art class, to a dance lesson – the possibilities are endless. Find something you have always wanted to do and try it!
Some things in life are uncontrollable and inevitable, such as winter in the Maritimes. But, you CAN control what you decide to do during these months. There’s no point in dwelling on winter, so bundle up and find some joy in the great outdoors!