7 Ways to Avoid the Winter Hibernation Trap
Winter introduces you to colder temperatures, darker skies, and an overall gloomier feel when you walk out the door. So it’s no wonder your natural inclination is to avoid all of it. Why battle the snow or put on an extra three layers of warm clothing when you have the option to remain in the comfort of your home?
Health Consequences of Hibernation
While it’s certainly easier to hibernate in the winter months than it is maintain exercise routines and social activities, the consequences of inactivity may make those efforts well worth it.
Physical inactivity can have a number of health implications. Not only can it lead to weight gain but it also increases the risk of health conditions such as:
- Cardiovascular disease.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- Certain cancers.
Furthermore, reduced sunlight in the winter, in addition to potential changes in serotonin and melatonin levels in the body, can put you at risk for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression that typically occurs around the same time each year and is characterized by changes in mood, appetite, and energy levels.
For these reasons, it’s vital that you maintain physical activity, nurture your mental health, and keep your social schedule intact. The following ideas can encourage a healthier lifestyle outside of the home.
1. Embrace the Cold
Reframing how you think of the cold weather may unveil the fun activities that it allows for. In the summer, for example, you can’t build a snowman with the kids or partake in snowball fights—both of which are not only great ways to stay active but to also let loose and have fun.
Ice skating, skiing, sledding, or going for a hike in the snow are all great ways to remain active while taking advantage of the weather conditions. Only a few extra layers of clothing required!
2. Join an Indoor Sports Team or League
Numerous sports are played indoors in the winter such as soccer, tennis, swimming, volleyball, and basketball. Pick your favorite and find a league in your area to join. A quick Internet search will turn up options near you or you can inquire about teams at your local gym.
In addition to the physical benefits, sports leagues also offer mental health benefits resulting from friendly competition, engaging with others, and bonding over a shared interest.
3. Find a Pool or Climbing Wall
If you don’t find organized sports appealing and prefer a more solitary activity, try swimming laps or rock climbing. Not only do these activities engage multiple muscle groups within the body, but they also promote mindfulness. Rock climbing, in particular, requires concentration and focused attention while a pool can serve as a novel environment for your senses, encouraging you to engage and take notice.