During Colorado winters, it can seem as though everyone you know is rushing to the slopes. But if you don’t ski or snowboard, the cold, dark nights may feel like a sad end to all of your favorite outdoor activities and leave you resentful of the snow.
“People can have a hard time getting active in the winter with the short days and cold weather,” says Tanya Kern, MD, a primary care doctor with SCL Physicians. “Try to find activities to do outside, even when it’s cold. Dress in layers, as you will warm up as you get going.”
That’s because winter can weigh you down — literally. “The latest research shows that it is extremely difficult to lose weight permanently once you have gained it,” Kern says. “It is much better to avoid gaining weight in the first place.”
But if you’re not into carving up the slopes, what exactly is there to do? Here are two strategies to having fun without a pair of sticks on your feet:
Get creative. With a little imagination you can create a “winter edition” of your favorite summer activities.
Don’t want to say goodbye to your favorite trails and parks until spring? Try snowshoes! If you can walk, you can snowshoe. Rent or buy snowshoes at a local sporting goods store, dress warm and head to the same trails you frequent in the summer. And, hey, less people!
Sad to see your swimming pools closed? Get on top of the water instead and head to a local ice rink. Whether you can glide across the rink like an Olympian or have never tried it before, ice skating is a fun and unique way to get moving. Just 45 minutes of skating can burn more than 350 calories.
Like the burn of a steep hike or a mountain trail? Go sledding or tubing. Grab your family or friends and scope out a nearby sledding hill. Children will have endless fun sledding and get great exercise trekking back up the hill, while older kids and young adults may prefer tubing. An hour of sledding can burn more than 400 calories.
Get inside. Cyclists may not care for the stationary bike, or walkers and runners for the treadmill. That’s OK. There are alternative ways to have fun indoors.
Have you ever wanted to try a ballroom class? What about salsa, jazz or swing? Whether it’s a traditional dance style or a workout dance like Zumba, the winter months are the ideal time to sign up for dance classes or an indoor activity you might not make time for during the summer.
Don’t pack away the swimsuits just yet. Plan a day of exercise and activity at a local rec center or YMCA. Children can enjoy waterslides and paddleboards, while there are designated lap swim times for adults. Swimming can burn approximately 500 calories per hour.
Mountains aren’t just for the outdoors these days. Did you know climbing gyms and rec centers all around Colorado offer fun and accessible ways to (literally) climb on the walls? Call ahead and make sure you go during their supervised time, then rope up and see if you can reach the ceiling! You’re guaranteed a cardio workout that burns between 500 and 900 calories per hour!
Whether you choose to try one of these activities or a personal favorite of your own, keeping moving even during the cold winter months is essential to your long-term health.
And the main thing? As Dr. Kern says: “Choose an activity you enjoy, even a daily walk. Walking is an excellent form of exercise that you can safely do all year round.”