Sun. Feb 25th, 2024
Healthy resolutions

The research is clear: spending time in nature improves our physical, mental and social well-being.

Yes. Even when it’s cold outside.

Ready for a healthier 2023? We chatted with park planner Will Kershaw to find out how he stays fit and healthy during the winter months. These are his best tips:

Find the space of your dreams

“There are places we go, both mentally and physically, that become part of our routine.” -Will Kershaw

winter bridge slides

Are you struggling with a new habit or regimen? Let nature be your motivation.

We all have favorite destinations. For Will, it’s skiing and snowshoeing. Some of his favorite landmarks on a snowshoe ride or on groomed cross-country trails with tracks.

What makes a place special to you? Is it the sound of birds singing or the babbling of a stream? The crunch of boots in the snow or the hiss of cold air in your face as you glide down a ski slope?

Snowshoe aerial

Whether you’re looking for the camaraderie of the skating rink or the solitude of the trails, we bet you’ll find your ideal winter space in our parks.

embrace winter

The crowds are gone; the forest is silent; the air is fresh and invigorating. Dust off your skates, skis, and snowshoes, or go on a tubing or dog sledding adventure. It’s also a great season for wildlife viewing and the parks are full of fun winter activities.

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Pino Martin

Don’t forget to make friends with someone from your home. It’s always safer to go out with another person during a winter adventure.

Snowshoeing in Pinery

Find a list of winter parks and activities on our Winter Adventure page and use our Snow Report to check trail conditions before you head out.

Dress for success

Staying warm in winter is all about layers.

If you’re planning a full winter workout, Will suggests “starting cool and finishing warm.” Plan ahead to ensure you don’t overheat.

Visitor walking through the forest.

You can find more information on how to dress for the outdoors here, but here are the basics:

  • Base layer: Synthetic or merino wool will help draw moisture away from the skin.
  • Midlayer: Insulating layer designed to retain body heat, such as fleece.
  • Outer layer: a waterproof and windproof layer, such as Gore-tex

Check the weather report before you head out and don’t forget your hat, gloves and scarf!

Mix indoor and outdoor activities.

Okay, but what about those days when it’s too cold to spend time outside?

Will recommends a regular inner routine. She completes her short 20-minute workout in her kitchen while waiting for the porridge to cook.

Will’s pre-job training*

Repeat for 3 cycles:

  • Bird Dog Pose (hold for a count of 100 on each side, repeat three times)
  • push-ups (challenge yourself to do one more each day)
  • sustained plank (hold for a count of 100)
  • abs (Will jokingly suggests calculating your age)
  • pelvic raises (hold for count to 100)
  • Half Shoulder Pose (hold while counting to 100)

*remember: this is just an example. Find the healthy habits that work for you.

Not ready for a full workout? Find creative ways to fit more activity into your daily routines

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Set a timer on your desk to make sure you’re on your feet regularly (even if it’s just a walk around the office). Take the stairs instead of the elevator or try a standing desk.

Set goals you can measure

Once ski season starts, Will spends time on the trails. He tracks the distance with snowshoes and the sky, aiming to cover 40 km per week.

We did the calculations. With three full months of winter, 40 km per week adds up to 500 km during the season. Now that’s a statistic to be proud of!

skiing

What healthy achievement would make you proud?

Some people follow their lead or commit to a certain number of activities per week.

Whatever your goal, make sure you have a way to track your progress. Make yourself responsible with tools like:

  • check marks on a calendar
  • smartphone apps
  • a Fitbit or a step counter
  • a 30×30 challenge

Make it meaningful

If we want our new habits to stick, we cannot choose activities that seem monotonous or absurd to us.

Cross country ski

So find out what activities have meaning for you.

Are you motivated by:

  • The adrenaline of the ski slopes?
  • A social community or friendly competition?
  • The peace and quiet of a winter stream or a fresh snowfall?
  • The excitement of detecting a new species?
  • The feeling of accomplishment after completing your daily checklist?

quetico river

Remember: time spent in nature can:

  • low blood pressure
  • strengthen the immune system
  • mitigate the disease
  • reduce stress levels
  • increase creativity, curiosity and problem-solving skills
  • Reduce negative emotions, including anger, fatigue and sadness.
  • increase memory performance and attention span

See you on the trails!