You can’t get too much winter in the winter. ~ Robert Frost
I love walking in winter. It’s tranquil and beautiful; simultaneously calming yet invigorating. I enjoy the crunch of snow underfoot and the slight sting of flakes on my face. I appreciate having fewer people in my path and am surprised how I hear entirely different sounds than in summer. And it’s much easier to keep up a brisk pace!
Even if you engage in other physical activities, you need to walk regularly. I realize it can be a challenge to get motivated, especially when the temperature dips down well below freezing, so let me remind you of some of the benefits.
Walking Benefits Your Whole Being
- Physical – walking can help strengthen bones, reduce blood pressure, manage weight, refine coordination and balance, reduce your risk of diabetes and increase longevity.
- Mental – walking can boost creativity, improve cognitive function, enhance memory and reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s.
- Emotional – walking can improve your mood, reduce anxiety and ease depression.
Walking can boost your energy and improve your sleep, especially if done in the morning. It’s also an excellent way to socialize. We went for a walk with our dinner guests between courses at our Christmas dinner. It was a refreshing change of pace, plus we got to see this:
Get Outside – It Makes a Difference
Walking outdoors is the way to go! This NY Times article describes How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain. A treadmill just doesn’t offer all the same benefits; you can read more about that in Katy Bowman”s Junk Food Walking. If you prefer to listen (maybe while you go for a walk) check out her Katy Says podcast: Episode 9 – Treadmills (available on iTunes or Stitcher) or read the transcript.
Dress for the Weather: Wool + Layers = Warmth
What about the weather and what to wear?
- Wool socks are a must. Contrary to popular opinion they’re not itchy if you get a lovely merino wool. I like SmartWool brand, a bit pricey but worth it. They’re the only socks I’ve worn in years.
- An underlayer, silk, lightweight merino or synthetic (not cotton) is best, with additional insulating layers as required.
- Warm, cozy boots with room for your toes to move and enough tread to give you some traction. Since people often ask, I wore these Campers last year except for the most chilly days.
- Then I pulled out these less-than-minimal, not-exactly-alignment-friendly Ugg Adirondacks. Seriously, some days warmth trumps everything! I just made sure to do some extra stretching afterward to help mitigate the adverse effects.
- UPDATE: For the 2016/2017 season I found these extremely lightweight, flexible, feel-like-zero-drop Baffin Escalate boots at MEC. Like down slippers; a bit of a sloppy fit but super warm and waterproof.
- A hat and scarf. In Chinese medicine, it’s considered essential to keep the wind element from penetrating your body causing colds or flu. But you already knew that because your mother told you too.
Take Care of Yourself
- Keep hydrated. It’s not as noticeable in winter, but you’re still losing moisture.
- If you’re going to out for long, take a snack to keep up your energy.
- If you feel chilled when you get in, have a hot drink or a nice warm bath.
Finally, don’t forget to do your stretches! This calf stretch is an everyday essential.
So get out there and enjoy the winter – there’s still time…