Get Outside!By Rachel Richards
We are in the depths of hibernation season. Despite all the New Year’s resolutions to hit the gym every day, we all know that the extreme cold and dark days may make it easier for us to stay in. We’ll happily cozy up on our couches in sweat pants with warm blankets, fuzzy slippers, and our best friend: Netflix.
There is a simple thing anyone can do to survive the winter feeling happy and healthy: bundle up and get outside for just 20 minutes a day no matter what the weather is (and I mean no matter what!).
Getting outside and getting sunlight helps your body’s internal clock reset itself to a natural rhythm, keeping your eating and sleeping patterns in sync. Studies have shown how important vitamin D – the “sunshine” vitamin – is for your health; it’s been linked to preventing hormonal problems, obesity, and inflammation, and helps strengthen your immune system.
Bonus tip: Use your outside time as a breather and leave your phone inside!
Bundle Up Baby!
Ever notice how most people come to work with just a winter coat and maybe gloves? And they wonder why the walk from the car to the doors is so cold! To arm yourself for a 20 minute outdoor survival regime you must have:
A winter coat: And I’m not talking about the “professional” pea coat that looks good with a suit or dress, you need a windproof, warm winter coat. (Stay tuned for AHAA Living’s upcoming guide to winter coats!).
A toque: You lose about 50% of your body heat from your head, so keep that thing covered! I love MEC’s line of headwear, like this dome hat with extra ear protection. If I had to choose between looking like a robber, and being warm, I’d go for being warm with this balaclava. I have a windproof toque (no longer in stock) from Bench Canada, which has saved me in Southern Alberta and our 110km/hour winds. Whatever the conditions, keep that head covered!
Gloves: Make sure you have warm gloves, not the cheap $0.99 ones you get at the grocery store, but warm, insulated gloves or mittens to keep your fingers frost-bite free, like these shelled insulator mittens from Patagonia or a more stylish pair, like the Sonja Fair Isle Mitt from Roots.
Warm boots: Those cute Aldo boots aren’t going to keep you warm. Carry your shoes with you or leave them at the office and wear warm boots with good traction. I wear Manitobah Mukluks, those things rock! Sorel’s are also a go-to staple, and they have some pretty cute designs, like the Tivoli Herringbone Boot. For a less hardcore set of boots, cold-weather Blundstones are sturdy and warm for outdoors, but can also transition to an indoor shoe.
Snow pants: Ladies, if you’re wearing a skirt to work you need snow pants. Yes, that sounds extreme, but leggings or tights will NOT keep you warm for longer than 30 seconds. And they don’t need to be those bulky things we wore as kids, check out these stylish Snowfall Pants from MEC (don’t be fooled by the male model on the website – they do make a women’s version), or you could even try some snowboarder pants – check out these from Pacific Boarder in Vancouver.
Here are a few other ideas for getting your 20 minutes in each day:
- Walk to work, or hop off the bus a few stops away and finish your commute on foot
- Don’t fear your bicycle! Check out AHAA Living’s guide to winter riding
- Find a local skating rink and strap on your blades or host a shinny – if you’re lucky enough to live in Ottawa, try skating to work on the world’s longest skating rink
- Cook your dinner on the barbecue! Check out these tips from Canadian Living on winter grilling
- Brave enough to attempt winter camping? Here’s some cool tips from Scouts Canada
- Have a wiener roast on the beach. Grab your friends, dry wood, and some Baileys and coffee and hit the beach!
- Channel your inner child and go tobogganing!
- Organize a snowball fight with your friends
I’m one of those people that love winter and snow and I always tell people it’s because I dress for the weather. So why not become a winter person?
Bundle up and enjoy all nature has to offer!