Ditch the Excuses! Seven Tips to Help You Get Out the Door for Winter Walks
Did you make a New Year’s resolution to exercise more consistently, eat better, drink more water or whatever?
I did not. I don’t do resolutions anymore, but I do make commitments to try to do those things, pretty much on a daily basis. Btw, I did that before cancer too.
You might want to read, New Year Resolutions, a good piece about taking responsibility for getting moving, cancer or no cancer.
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty weary of headlines and articles touting diet and exercise as ways to prevent cancer. Nothing prevents cancer. Not yet anyway. Cancer’s too sneaky. A healthy lifestyle reduces risk. Big difference.
Panel Finds Exercise May Lower Cancer Risk and Improve Outcomes, now that’s an article that got the headline and the content right. Check it out, if you want to.
In 2020, I’m pretty sure most adults fully realize the benefits of exercise, regardless of the state of our health. We don’t need shaming. We don’t need lectures. We don’t need finger pointing.
But sometimes we can use some help!
(Speaking of help, let’s help each other too. Participate in my photo/tip invitation. Details at the end of this post.)
Not just encouragement, but guidance with specific resources for how to incorporate healthier eating habits and more movement (better term than exercise) should be part of any cancer patient’s followup. Unfortunately, for most of us, this is not the case. There’s talk about making this part of followup, almost like a prescription, but so far it’s just talk.
Now let’s get to the point of this particular post – winter walks.
If you’re like me, taking a daily walk is your first choice for getting in some daily exercise.
But what the heck do you do if, also like me, you live where winter is not necessarily your friend when it comes to getting outside for that daily walk?
I’m not gonna lie. Winter months make it extra challenging for me to head out the door with the pup (who’s really a senior, but I still like to call her a pup.) I live in Wisconsin after all. Winter is long. Winter is harsh. Winter is well, wintry.
Nonetheless, I still prefer to get outdoors whenever I can to take that walk during winter months too. There’s just something about getting outside. The fresh air. The solitude. The no devices (most of the time anyway). The quiet. The thinking time. The planning time. The me time.
But this time of year, my daily walk can also be “freezing my arse time”!
So, when is it too cold to take that walk?
Not that often. And that’s according to experts, not me. It’s generally considered safe to walk outdoors until the temps get down to sub-zero level, and even then, it’s doable with extra precautions taken. Of course, dressing appropriately matters. A lot! Especially when it’s windy too.
Read about dressing appropriately for cold temps here.
You might want to read, Winter fitness: Safety tips for exercising outdoors via Mayo Clinic, for further info.
So, now let’s get to those winter walking tips.
1. As mentioned, you gotta dress appropriately.
Layer up. Get the gear. And don’t skimp. It’s the perfect excuse to splurge on yourself. Get the warm hooded coat, pricier gloves, cozy stocking cap and a warm scarf.
When it’s cold, proper head cover and protecting your hands, feet and face is essential.
2. Take shorter, later in the day walks and pick up the pace when you can.
Sometimes we get hung up on distance. Sometimes less is more. Start with a goal of 10 minutes. Once you get out there, you’ll likely feel like doing more. Okay, you might.
Also, adjusting the time of day you walk might help. When it’s milder, I prefer walking earlier in the day. During winter, I choose whatever time my trusty phone weather app tells me will be the warmest.
Generally, people walk faster when it’s cold, so if you’re able and it’s not too icy, pick up your pace. You’ll burn more calories that way. Woohoo!
Another option is to break things up and take a couple shorter walks throughout your day. (I know, I know. You’re saying, you’re kidding, right? Bundle up more than once?) Gotta admit, I rarely do this. Cuz once kinda is enough. But still, if it helps…
3. Stay close to home.
4. Be mindful of wind chills too. And icy conditions.
I used to think reporting wind chill temps was sorta silly. Not any more. They do matter. I never used to worry much about walking on icy sidewalks and streets either. Now I do. (Thank you endocrine therapy. Not!)
My brother gave me some rubber cleat-like contraptions a few years back to strap on over my boots. I kid you not. (Where did I put those?)
5. Have a back up plan. You’re gonna need it.
Okay, sometimes it IS just too darn cold. Sometimes you need a backup. Dear Hubby and I bought a treadmill years ago when the kids were youngsters, and it’s still working! It was a good investment, and we’ve only changed the belt once. I only use it in winter months, but for those days I choose to stay in, it’s a great alternative. Yeah, treadmills are kinda boring, but mine gets me moving. So, considering a piece of equipment for your home might make a lot of sense.
Other alternatives might be an exercise DVD, following an online program, grabbing a routine from Pinterest (I do this. Check out my exercise board.), joining a club of some sort or just making up your own routine. Though do be careful with the latter, if you don’t know what you’re doing. The last thing you want to do is hurt yourself.
You might want to read, The YMCA Livestrong Program for Cancer Survivors.
6. Get a dog to walk with year round.
Of course NEVER get a dog for just this one reason. However, having a walking buddy can really help motivate, regardless of weather conditions. Of course, some dogs can’t take the cold, but many, probably even most, can tolerate it for short periods.
Dear Daughter has tips for walking/running with dogs at That Mutt. Below are a couple links.
Winter Running with Dogs
How Cold Is too Cold for a Dog Walk?
Bottom line, you know your pet best. When in doubt, ask your vet. She likely has, or has had a dog, and lives where you do, after all. And remember, your pet might benefit by wearing a coat and perhaps boots as well. There’s lots of dog gear on the market these days too.
7. Reward yourself.
This could be enjoying a cup of hot chocolate or coffee once you’re back inside or indulging in a treat of some sort that you like. It could also be curling up with a book or magazine for the same number of minutes that you walked, marking the day on your calendar with a big “X” or an “I did it” or giving yourself a sticker – whatever it takes!
Also, give yourself a pat on the back for getting out there. Winter walking makes you sort of a bad ass! (Stole that one from That Mutt!)
So, those are a few ideas I came up with to help you keep up with your daily walking routine in winter.
Still not feeling motivated?
I get it. Sometimes it’s not that easy to “just do it”.
Believe me, I’ve used every excuse to not get out the door. It’s too hot, too cold, too rainy, too slushy, too humid, too windy, too icy, too buggy. And those are just the weather excuses! (I told you I’ve used them all.)
Maybe you hate to exercise. It’s okay. If that’s you, take a peek at this post for a little motivation: Do You Hate to Exercise? 14 Strategies to Help Motivate.
I always like to wrap up this sort of post with a couple reminders.
First of all, do your best. Cut yourself some slack, maybe a lot of slack on some days.
Secondly, remember that even if you never exercise, never reach your “ideal” weight or whatever metric you wanna use, you are worthy.
Your value is not based on the state of your health, your weight, whether or not you eat right or exercise a little, a lot or not at all. And all those people who “do everything right”, they are not better than you because they do.
You are a person of value just for being you. Exactly as you are.
Yes, just like Mr. Rogers always said!
Now for those photo invitation details:
Email me (email@example.com) a photo of you fitting in an outdoor winter walk. Include tips if you want. Not cold where you live? Send a photo anyway! If I get enough, I’ll grab a few photos and round them up in a future blog post so we can help keep each motivated this winter and beyond! (Bloggers will get links, too, of course.)
Thank you in advance for participating!
Do you have a winter walking tip?
Don’t live where it’s cold? I’m betting there are still days you need some motivation due to weather or something else. So, share your tip(s) too!
What’s your go-to form of movement, regardless of season or weather?
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