Beat the Winter Blahs with Olympic Inspiration

Posted on March 1, 2010 by

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With the eyes of the world on Vancouver during the Winter Olympics, it will be interesting to see the results once all of the athletes have gone home.

This does not have to do with the medal count but, rather, whether the 2010 Games will inspire people to become more physically active. Canadian speed skating star Kristina Groves is optimistic this will happen: “Hopefully, 2010 will be a way to jostle the consciousness of Canadians, and to say: ‘Look we need to be active people.’ It doesn’t have to be a sport thing, just active in something.”

By this time in our winter season however, most of us are becoming a bit weathered, so to speak. The holidays have come and gone, the New Year is old news, and the novelty of a Canadian winter is wearing thin. Even if you’ve made peace with the high snow-banks, short days, and low temperatures, you have to admit this time of year is when many of us stay inactive indoors. 

The dull days of frozen February provide little motivation to be active in a country where inactivity is already an issue year round.

A survey conducted by the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute in 1999 shows that 64% of Canadians are still not active enough to reap the health benefits of a physically active lifestyle. Even children are sitting still; expending 400% less energy than their counterparts did 40 years ago.
We need to move – even amid the winter blahs.

In order to feel better and be healthier, we need to move our bodies. A study at Duke University found that intense bouts of exercise effectively reduce feelings of depression, tension, anger, and confusion. As well, according to countless other studies, even short spurts of moderate exercise can improve our outlook on life and make us less anxious.

A gym membership is not required. Plenty of other opportunities, both practical and fun, can get us moving everyday – someone has to shovel the driveway, after all. Someone has to walk the dog. The point is exercise and activity need not be a rigid chore. Just get moving.

Here are some ideas to help you along:

• Take a Mid-Day walk: Dress in layers and make sure your extremities are well insulated. Don’t forget your sunscreen, especially on your nose. Head out for a 20 to 30 minute walk. Warm up during the first 5 minutes with long strides and swinging arms (don’t be shy!) and then set a steady brisk pace for 10 to 20 minutes. Spend the last 5 minutes slowing down your pace and cooling down.

Things to note!
• Ensure you wear good walking boots that will grip the sidewalk.
• Vary your route; as you get stronger, try streets with a few hills.
• Stay hydrated!
• Stay motivated! Invite a Friend! Listen to some tunes on your MP3!
• Smile and be in the moment, enjoying the sights and sounds. Consider this a well deserved break in your day and, before you know it, you have a new great habit!

• Visit the Mall: When the weather is just too terrible for even the hardiest to brave, head to the mall. Start at one end and walk briskly around the entire level. Be sure to take advantage of the stairs as part of your workout! An easy way to get 20 minutes of activity into your day (and you don’t have to spend a dime!)

• Home Gym: Gym memberships can be expensive and gyms can even be a bit intimidating! You can set up a home gym very easily for less than one month’s membership fee. All you need is a yoga mat, some dumbbells, and an exercise ball. And don’t worry, you need less than 20 square feet to succeed! Visit the public library to borrow exercise DVDs, purchase them, or check out the internet for great workouts. I recommend the P90X Fitness System; easy, effective, and fun!

• Climb the Stairs: If you have stairs where you live or work, use them! Pop on your iPod with your favourite playlist, warm up by marching in place and pumping your arms, then spend 20 minutes going up and down the stairs.

• Housework! No, I’m not crazy. Vacuuming, dusting, even re-organizing your closet is a great way to get up off of the couch and be productive. You’ll use your body, burn some calories, and strike some items from your ‘to do’ list!

Remember! Before starting any new exercise plan, check with your health care professional!

Try your best to get some activity into every day. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time, effort, or money to Get Moving!

Contact me directly for more information about how to inject some action into your life!
Email me or call the clinic.

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