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Just Say No to Winter Blahs

God didn’t make us like the bears–allowing us to hibernate all winter.

A winter walk. Photo by vvvita, Thinkstock.
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Sure, it’s nice to snuggle up in those flannel pjs, wrap yourself in your favorite cozy quilt, pop some popcorn, watch old movies by a flickering fire and relax until the first signs of spring. But, is that really a healthy approach to winter? (OK, maybe once in a while, but not every single day!)

According to Dino Nowak, author of best-selling fitness book, “The Final Makeover” (Siloam Press), we need to stay active in the winter. Sure, we want to work off those holiday pounds we added from eating too much stuffing and fudge, but there are many other reasons to get active this winter. For example, working out can ward off those winter blahs.

Michelle's family enjoying some winter walking.The winter blahs are real, he says. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects close to 50% of people in the northern United States, though anyone living in colder climates where the sun isn’t out as much can suffer from it. Understandably, January and February are the worst months.

“By staying physically active you’ll get those endorphins flowing through your body,” Nowak explains. “Also by getting outside, particularly in the afternoon when there is some kind of sunlight, you’ll help fight and can even prevent the onset of SAD.”

So, even though it’s a bit on the chilly side these days, that sunlight is still worth venturing outside for–even if for only a few minutes each day. (Of course, you’ll want to listen to your local weather channel for wind chill advisories.)

True, I’d rather be walking the beach than walking a snow-covered trail–just being honest–but I live in Indiana, and it’s January, so you’ve got to make the best of your situation, right?

Plus, as Nowak points out, there’s still a great, big beautiful, frosty world out there just waiting for us to join in the fun.

Here are some outdoor calorie-burning, fun-loving winter outdoor activities:

  • Have a snowball fight with friends and family.

  • Play tag football in the snow with the guys.

  • Build a snowman with the neighborhood kiddos–the bigger the better!

  • Create a snow house with blocks of finely-packed snow for a cool pad–literally!

  • Take a walk with the fam or Fido, and enjoy the wonderful winter wonderland just outside your front door.

According to Nowak, basically anything physical you do in the snow is a great workout because of the increased resistance. Of course, you’ll want to check with your doctor before engaging in any strenuous outdoor (or indoor) activities and make sure you’re dressed appropriately for a winter workout.

Layering t-shirts, sweatshirts and jackets gives you the freedom to easily remove layers as your body heats up during your workout, according to Nowak. The best selections are those made of synthetic fibers because they provide good insulation while keeping moisture away from the skin, because wet equals cold.

Here’s a sample outfit for your cold weather workout: a pair of long underwear, a synthetic fleece shirt and a water-resistant windbreaker or rain jacket, (depending on the weather), mittens, a toboggan that covers your head and ears, and water-resistant shoes.

In some colder climates, you may need a facemask to provide protection from the harsh elements.

Also, it gets darker earlier and stays darker longer in the wintertime. Consider wearing reflective tape strips or simply add a reflective vest over the top of your clothes so motorists can see you.  

So, whether you decide to brave the cold for a brisk walk or have a snowball fight with the kiddos at church, enjoy this time of year!

God didn’t make us like the bears–allowing us to hibernate all winter. He made us to move year round. So move it, be careful and have fun! No winter blahs for us, only winter hoorahs!

Pray this with me:

Father, thank You for all of the seasons—even winter. I see Your handiwork in the beautiful snow-covered landscapes, and I am in awe of Your artistry.

Help me to avoid the ‘winter blahs’ and instead enjoy the ‘winter hoorahs,’ celebrating every day as a gift. Help me to become healthier this year and continue to move my body as You intended.

In the precious Name of Your Son, Jesus, Amen.

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