The weather outside is frightful, but staying healthy is so delightful!

Lupus Foundation of America

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Brrrr… It’s cold! In many places the ground soon will be covered with snow and ice, and the amount of sunshine each day will decrease—not the most inspirational time for fitness. “It’s hard to stay motivated in the winter,” says Kara Smith, personal trainer and special events coordinator at the Loyola Center for Health. “When temperatures plummet, the last thing we want to do is leave the comfort and warmth of our home. But winter is not a good excuse to give up our fitness routines.”

Though your body may be layered under sweatshirts and coats, staying active and healthy is important in the winter months. Winter is a unique time of year and there are lots of ways to get out, get some exercise, and have a good time.

If you’re seeking serious exercise, there are some great outdoor sports that you can only take advantage of during the chilly season, such as snowshoeing, ice skating, cross-country or downhill skiing, or ice hockey.

Not ready to tackle an ice rink or a mountainside, but have cabin fever? These activities will get you moving, but won’t feel like exercise:

  • Build a snowperson—or a whole snow family.
  • Go sledding with the kids.
  • Start a snowball fight (preferably with people you know).

Whatever you choose to do outdoors, make sure your body is prepared for the weather:

  • Wear layers. This helps trap heat and will keep you warmer.
  • Wear a hat, gloves, and scarf to make sure skin is covered and limit the risk of frostbite.
  • Drink lots of water. Winter is a very dry time of year and your body needs the extra water to stay hydrated.

If you need a little more incentive, these tips will help get you off the couch and keep you motivated:

  • Schedule a regular time to exercise with a friend, and then get together for healthy potlucks and weigh-in accountability.
  • Find out what fruits and veggies are in season and discover new recipes you can share with family and co-workers.
  • Sign up for a gym membership. Most fitness centers have promotions going on in January.
  • Try something new. Purchase a new fitness video you can do at home or start a new fitness activity to keep you going till spring.

Winter doesn’t last forever, so stop hibernating and get out and enjoy what this—and every— season has to offer.

(Adapted from Loyola University Health System; used with permission.)