Our health depends not just on what happens at the doctor’s office, but also on what we do in our daily lives. That’s true even during our cold, dark winter months.
It’s important to be active each day, even if it’s just moderate activity. Adults should aim for at least 30 minutes per day, while children should get at least an hour of physical activity daily.
But don’t worry — there are lots of ways to be physically active this time of year. Consider some of the following ways.
Walking: Rather than getting in the car out of habit, try walking to run errands, to go to school or work, or to visit a friend. Be sure to dress for the weather and conditions — a warm, rain-proof jacket, gloves and a hat or umbrella are ideal for our area.
If you are outside when it’s dark, or during low-visibility conditions, make sure that you can be seen by wearing bright colors or reflective clothing. Carrying a flashlight is a good idea too.
If getting outside when it’s raining doesn’t appeal to you, indoor spaces, such as shopping malls, provide warm, dry places to walk when it’s wet, cold and dark outside.
Parks and playgrounds: We are fortunate to have parks and playgrounds near where most of us live. Parks and schools with playgrounds are great places for children to get outside, be active and be with friends. Pick a break in the weather to get outside and have fun.
Join a gym: Gyms offer lots of ways for people at every fitness level to be active. Most provide a variety of classes that allow you to try something new — from aerobics to Zumba — all under the guidance of an instructor.
Most gyms also have stationary bikes and treadmills, so you can keep up with your walking, running or cycling, even if you refuse to do them in the cold and rain. Some gyms have indoor pools that are heated to temperatures comfortable for aqua aerobics, swimming lessons or doing laps on your own.
Hit the trails: The Chehalis Western Trail remains open all year, allowing walkers, runners, bicyclists, Rollerbladers, and others to travel from Puget Sound to the communities of Rainier, Tenino and Yelm — and now that the last of three bridges is completed, trail users can avoid vehicle traffic altogether. The Chehalis Western also joins with the Woodland Trail that goes from the middle of Olympia to Lacey’s Woodland Community Park.
Head to the mountains: There are lots of things to do in the snow other than making snow angels, provided you have the right clothing and equipment. If you like downhill skiing or snowboarding, Crystal Mountain, White Pass and the Summit at Snoqualmie are all within a couple of hours’ drive from our area. White Pass and Snoqualmie also offer cross country skiing and snowshoeing, if speeding down a mountain isn’t your style.
Washington State Parks also operates roughly 40 nonmotorized Sno-Parks for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and just playing in the snow. Mount Rainier National Park is also a great place for winter activities such as sledding, skiing, and ranger-guided snowshoe hikes. Check the appropriate websites to find out more about conditions, equipment rental, and costs.
Set sail: Yes, sailing doesn’t just happen during the summer months. And you can join in the fun, even if you don’t have your own sailboat. South Sound Sailing Society members look for people to help crew their boats throughout the year. Look for opportunities at ssssclub.com/ssss.htm.
Thurston Thrives promotes active living and making social connections as ways to strengthen our community, and, as you can see, there are lots of ways to be active this winter. Doing so with family, friends and even strangers will not only help keep you moving, but will also help build the kind of supportive connections that’s healthy for you and our community.