Winter Activities are Good for Mind and Body

Winter can be a tough in the Northwest. The weather is icy, cold, snowy, and sometimes windy. With our winter weather and lack of sun-light an increased number of us may suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). One of the best ways to combat the effects of SAD is through exercise. Exercise increases the levels of Serotonin in our bodies, which is one the happy calming neurotransmitters produced in your brain.

Along with our not-so-friendly winter weather come ample opportunities to supplement our activities with weight gaining replacements such as holiday parties. The best strategy for dealing these issues is through exercise. There are plenty of indoor and outdoor options to maintaining your fitness that can be very rewarding. The indoor options in the Inland Northwest are limitless. There are dozens of general and specialty fitness centers that program for every interest, fitness level and budget. Take the time to check out several facilities before choosing the right option for you.

There are lots of positives aspects in embracing the winter outdoors. By exercising outdoors when the sun is shining, your retina is stimulated to produce that essential neurotransmitter serotonin mentioned above. There are plenty of exercise options that can be fun for the whole family. For many, tops on the list is snow skiing/snowboarding, which is an activity the whole family can enjoy together. There aren’t many outdoor healthy exercises that create such a family bond and are fun for everyone. If skiing/snowboarding sounds too difficult of expensive, another outdoor favorite is snow shoeing. Snow shoes are fairly reasonable to purchase, and if you don’t wish to own your own shoes, there are lots of places you can rent them. Some favorite snow shoe trails you can check out include Canfield Mountain and Fernan Saddle in CDA, 4th of July pass and the local ski resorts. With the addition of ‘fat tire’ bikes you can mountain bike in the snow as well. Schweitzer Resort has rentals, which are a great way to exercise and see the beautiful winter terrain. Winter is also a great time for hockey and ice skating at Frontier Arena in Post Falls. There are lots of sledding options including Cherry Hill in CDA. Last but not least, hiking or running is a terrific way to burn calories and get your heart pumping. If you plan on going when it is slippery with ice or snow I strongly recommend wearing ‘Yaktrax’ or some other sort of spike/chain gripper for your shoes. From experience I recommend that you make sure the traction devise has a velcro enclosure across the top of your foot, otherwise they tend to fall off.

As you head into winter make sure you have an exercise schedule that includes a combination of indoor and outdoor exercise options. So often we head into winter with no plan and then spend 6 months (or more) of being inactive. Along with exercise, I recommend taking Vitamin D 3 2000 IU daily during the winter months. Enjoy your winter activities and exercise.

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Article published in North Idaho Wellness Magazine