Get active and stay safe this winter!

A new year, a new you: January is the month when many Canadians resolve to get fit and get active.

Active folks enjoy many mental and physical benefits that include better sleep and a more positive outlook on life. Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for adults 18 – 24 recommend at least 150 minutes, or two and a half hours, of moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity a week. Children need even more – at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every day!

A great way to meet these targets is to take part in the seasonal activities you enjoy. This time of year, those activities might include winter sports such as skating, ice hockey, snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing and tobogganing.

But before you head out to break a sweat, recognize that each activity comes with potential hazards. You need to educate yourself on how best to avoid overexertion or getting hurt. Recovering from injuries is not time well spent and, in fact, might discourage you from continuing to pursue your fitness goals.

Take precautions. If you have a medical condition or have been inactive for a long time, see your doctor before beginning a rigorous workout routine. Get advice on activities that are best suited to your conditions.

Take your time to work your way up to your fitness goal. Your body needs time to adjust. For example, if you want to exercise three times a week, start with two workouts the first week. Exercise twice during the second week, but increase the duration of each workout. The following week, exercise three times for the desired length of time.

If you are exercising outside, it is likely going to be cold! General safety tips include dressing appropriately and in layers. Thick, loose-fitting clothing overtop a layer that’s next to your skin will help insulate your body by trapping warm, dry air and wicking away moisture.

Hypothermia can set in quickly on cold winter days, especially if there is a wind chill. Warm up frequently and carry a cell phone in case you need to call for help. Exercise good judgement and if it is too cold be outside, move your workout indoors.

Use the right gear, and use it properly. For example, the helmet you use for ice hockey will be different than one you use when skiing. Consult sporting experts and do your research about what to use and how to use it to avoid injuries.

It’s also important to be a good role-model for your children. If they see you making thoughtful choices, you’re helping them establish life patterns that revolve around safety and healthy decisions.

 

Safety. It’s an attitude.

Jack Smith