It is that time of year, when the days are colder; and there are fewer hours of daylight. It can often feel as if the sun is hibernating. How do you continue to stay motivated to get your 30 minutes of physical activity each day when all you want to do is snuggle up in a blanket and wait-out winter? During the cold, gray days get creative and find ways to enjoy the offerings of the season.
Benefits of Staying Active
Staying physically active is one of the best ways to improve your mental and physical health and keep yourself on track to reach your fitness goals. Physical activity can help you sleep better and reduce anxiety. Regular physical activity also helps you feel better, improve your balance, lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and many kinds of cancer, strengthen bones and muscles, lower blood pressure, maintain or lose weight, and keep your mind sharp as you get older. Emerging research also suggests physical activity may help boost your immune function.
Here are a few ideas to stay active all winter long.
Go outside and play!
Find your gloves, hats, and heavy coats and enjoy those activities you can only do this time of year. There are several outdoor ice skating rinks in the Kansas City area. Take a spin around the rink at Park Place in Leawood or the Ice Terrace at Crown Center. Ice skating for 30 minutes can burn approximately 250 calories.
Ice skating not your thing? Take a walk at one of the outdoor light displays around the area. Sar Ko Par Park in Lenexa has a wonderful display around the lake or enjoy the glow at Stagecoach Park in Olathe. If there is enough snow this year, sledding, building a snowman or having a snowball fight are also great ways to stay active!
Explore Your Favorite Park or Trail in the Winter
Weather permitting, schedule time during the day to get outside and enjoy one of Johnson County’s many parks and trails. Enjoy how your favorite trail looks different during the winter months. Winter is a great time to spot birds because there’s less leaf cover to camouflage them and shorter days also make it easier to admire the sunrise or sunset.
Despite the chilling temperatures, spending time outside can improve your mood, focus and lower stress levels. Studies have shown that just being out in nature can ground us and improve our moods which is important during the winter months when many people may experience the winter blues.
Exercise Indoors at Home
If outside activities are not appealing, how about exercising indoors at home? The Johnson County Library has numerous exercise DVDs that are available to checkout. Always wanted to try Zumba? Maybe Yoga is more your speed? Take the opportunity to try something new without committing to a class. YouTube is also another option for free workout videos.
Get Social with Your Exercise
Johnson County Park and Recreation and many of the city parks and recreation departments offer opportunities to stay active during the winter. Olathe Parks and Recreation has several adult sports leagues, including volleyball and basketball for all skill levels. Maybe group fitness classes more your style? Shawnee Parks and Recreation offers several choices like Tai Chi, PiYo (a Pilates yoga combo class) or Zumba. Interested in learning how to play Pickleball? Lenexa Parks & Recreation has beginner pickleball clinics over the winter.
Schedule a Walk and Talk Date
Make a “walk and talk” date with a friend or family member. Meet up at the mall and walk some laps while catching up. Mall walking not your thing? Try one of the county or city community or recreation centers indoor walking tracks. If you’re not a member, they offer day passes.
There are several indoor pools in Johnson County where you can get in some exercise. Try swimming, water aerobics, or even just walking or running laps in the water. This is a great family activity, too! Take the kids or grandkids and they can enjoy the indoor slides and play areas while you get in some physical activity. Below is a list of indoor pools in the county.
- Blue Valley Recreation Center
- Lenexa Rec Center
- Mission Family Aquatic Center
- Matt Ross Community Center
- Olathe Community Center
- Powell Community Center
Yes, it can be tough to get motivated when the wind is howling or the snow is blowing, but don’t give up staying active – indoors or out. A little planning will help you get through the winter months ahead. Have fun!