The best way to combat the winter blues is to breathe in fresh air. I’m not talking about your typical room air, the stuffy kind from sitting inside your home all day. Tie up your sneakers, put any work down, and step outside the home. There are many ways to exercise outside, and most of these are free of charge.
One of my favorite forms of exercise is walking. It is almost impossible to injure yourself when walking, unless you trip and fall down. You can set your own pace and adjust your distance based on how you feel that day. Probably the best way to approach your excursion is not to plan it. Just see where your legs take you. Most of the time, you will travel much further than you intended.
Walking is safe for the joints, and when you walk in proper form, your neck, shoulders and back can relax. To maximize the benefits of walking, empty your pockets and don’t carry anything in your hands unless it’s the leash to your dog. Nowadays, there are sports bras made with pockets in them where you can stash your phone and even your keys. Many exercise pants allow for this as well. Let your arms flow freely by the sides of your body. Expand your lungs and lengthen your stride with each deep breath. Not only is it good for your body to move and stretch; it is also a time to let your mind clear.
Don’t ever let the weather change your decision to get outside. There are a multitude of outdoor-wear manufacturers who produce all-weather clothing. These outfits are usually lightweight and breathable. They function beautifully to keep you nice and warm and even dry in inclement weather. If you wait for the best weather conditions to exercise, you will never make your way outside.
To make a walk even more enjoyable, I recommend the use of a Fitbit or a fitness option on your watch to track your distance. I like to hook my dog up with a fitness monitor as well. Turn your phone to the “do not disturb” function, so you are not interrupted with phone calls, texts, and other annoyances. The goal of exercise is to rid yourself of irritations that plague your mind. This is time that should be used only for yourself.
If you want to mix up your outdoor activities, try jumping rope! I did this and loved learning all the different tricks and techniques. It’s a wonderful form of exercise with a steep learning curve. Even ten minutes of jumping rope feels super good. Jump ropes are relatively cheap, and I also recommend investing in a padded surface to spare your knees. Youtube videos can really help with teaching proper form. There is no better feeling than mastering some of the more complicated jumps!
Most towns have groups posted on social media that meet up for different activities. Not all activities require a proper enrollment. Many are set up as a “show up and play” situation. This is really fun! It’s a great way to get outside, meet new people, and reap the benefits of exercise! In our town, I hear about more and more people playing pickleball. When I walk by the park, there’s always a crowd and lots of smiles.
If you are an introvert and jumping into a new group isn’t your idea of relaxation, try to find at least one compadre to join you on your adventures. With a partner in crime, it’s easy enough to meet up in the park to shoot hoops or rally on the tennis court. Trying new things is always more fun when you have a pal by your side. And if you look stupid and feel stupid, who cares? This is what makes great stories later!
During the middle of the pandemic when the world was shut down, I witnessed many neighbors finding new ways to get exercise. Many were outside, walking their dogs. People were doing push-ups in the park and riding bikes outside. One neighbor in his 40s rode his new skateboard up and down the street.
When life gets stressful, the best way to blow off some steam is to step outside the home, move your limbs, and inhale the fresh air. Get creative or find easy and convenient ways to exercise. Whether it’s a short stint outside or an hours-long walk, just make the commitment to do something physical. You’ll feel better!