How to stay active outside in the winter
December is here, bringing with it cold temps, winter conditions and the season of Hot Toddy’s and spiked Egg Nog. But even though the weather can be frightful at times during this magical time of year, there is still plenty of fun to be had outside. Whether it is a sunny, bluebird day or a rain or snow-filled stormy one, with proper attire and gear, it can be very enjoyable (and can boost your immune system) when you stay active outside in the cold- filled winter months. So grab your poison of choice (beer, coffee, tea, wine, juice box — hey, we don’t judge) and check out all the fun that you can have in the upcoming months. And with all this extra exercising you will be doing, maybe that animal print Speedo you have tucked away in your closet won’t be so tight when summer rolls around – go get’em tiger!
Cold Weather Running and Hiking/Snowshoeing – Running and hiking in rain, sleet, snow and the frigid cold can be a bit painful without proper gear – but that doesn’t mean you should hang up your kicks until spring comes. When temps start dropping, layers become your friend. Moisture-wicking base layers followed by thin, wool (or other performance fabrics) tops and topped with a down vest are great layers for the upper half of your body on cold, dry days. Cold-weather tights or jogging sweats are ideal for covering the legs and a beanie or headband to cover the ears (so they don’t turn into ice cubes) as well as thin gloves should keep you warm on runs or hikes, but allow you the ability to strip layers if you start to overheat. For those cold, wet days, thin, waterproof, breathable shell jackets and pants are your best friends. Putting this thin shells over your base layers (and leaving the down vest at home) will keep you dry when soggy conditions are inevitable. When it comes to your feet, waterproof running and hiking shoes are always an option, but you can also get waterproof shoe covers that will protect your feet from getting wet as well as keep them warm. If ice or slippery conditions are your concern, grab some studs for your shoes (Yaktrax are great). You will be able to trek through any icy trail (or parking lot) with ease.
Cross-Country Skiing and Ski Touring – Whether you have true cross-country skis or a full ski touring set-up on your downhill skis, heading out into the mountains or your local trails for a tour is a good time – whether it is sunny or a bit stormy. As with cold weather running, layering is definitely necessary due to the high energy you will expel while you are trekking along in the snow. On a sunny day, you may even find yourself in a tank top, baseball cap and shorts by the mid-day, so bring a pair of sunglasses as well as some sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s rays. On colder, stormy days, it is smart to throw a few extra layers in your pack, just in case you get chilled during breaks or on the way back down the hill. No matter what type of weather conditions you are heading out into, make sure that you always have a backpack with the proper essentials if you are heading out into the backcountry. First aid equipment, avalanche gear (probe, beacon, shovel & a partner) extra food and water and backcountry/avalanche safety knowledge are essential when heading into the mountains with your crew.
Snow Biking – Even when there is snow on the trails, mountain biking has become a very popular winter activity. A Fat Bike is a semi-new type of bike that is insanely fun to ride in snowy and frosty conditions. Their extra-fat tires, geometry and plowing power make them a great alternative to skiing when you feel like trading in your planks for two wheels. If you don’t want to go out and buy a whole new bike, you can also put studded tires on the mountain bike you already own. The extra traction of the studs provides the grip needed to navigate icy and snow-covered trails that exist in many areas during the winter. As far as attire goes, moisture-wicking base layers and waterproof and breathable top layers are the way to go. You will definitely be stripping off layers as you pedal through the snow – guaranteed!
Skiing/Heli-Skiing – The obvious outdoor activity of choice for many people in the winter is skiing/snowboarding. Not only is sliding around on the slopes a great calorie-burner, but it is also a great way to get in your weekly exercise intake while having fun with friends and family. Heli-skiing can take this boost to the immune system to a whole different level – and then some. When getting dropped off above the clouds, high up in the mountains, conditions can be intense – wind, bitter cold temperatures, snow storms – and can create a mental toughness that will not only make you a stronger skier, but can also make you a stronger person in your everyday life. Many times, the struggles that we face can be beaten in our minds – mind over matter, if you will. Are we really too cold to endure? Are our legs really too tired to make those final steps to the top of that ridge? These mental battles can be constant when you adventure in the mountains – but the rewards far outweigh the struggles. The views from high up in the helicopter will take your breathe away and the boost to your health and mental strength from all of your experiences deep in the mountains can positively influence your life (and health) for many years to come.
So the next time your local ski hill only has an inch of freshies or you just feel like getting out on a little bit of a different adventure, don’t let the weather discourage you. Winter is the perfect time to explore via foot, bike, snowshoe or ski – and while you are out enjoying the crisp air and frost-covered trees, remember that you are not only boosting your immune system for the long winter ahead, but you are also keeping those skiing and boarding muscles in shape for those epic pow days that are just around the corner. Now take the afternoon off, grab your 40-year old cross-country skis, fill your thermos full of spiked hot cocoa, snag some Christmas cookies off the counter and head out to the trail – your holiday buns will thank you.
If you’re interested in going beyond just a skiing holiday, please contact us for more information.