Editors note: “A Better Life” is a new weekly column by the USU Extension – Tooele Office that focuses on a variety of topics intended to enhance quality of life.
For many of us, January marks more than just a New Year; it’s a chance at a new beginning. Forty-four percent of Americans say they try to make at least one New Year’s resolution. The first and second most reported goals are always something health and fitness oriented. These resolutions often include weight loss, eating healthier and becoming more active.
In Tooele it can be a challenge to be active during the winter months. But even in cold weather, you can find activities to get going. Many people like to stay indoors. In addition to being cold and snowy, there is less sunlight and it gets dark early. It may require creativity to maintain an active lifestyle. If you haven’t been active in a while, remember to ease into it. Every little bit counts, so find ways to move whenever you can. Most importantly, chose to be active doing things that you enjoy. Consider some of the tips below to keep yourself moving.
• Embrace the season: There are many ways to be active in the winter with minimal equipment. Remember to dress appropriately for the weather and hydrate even in the cold. Go for a walk outside during lunch or on an afternoon break. If there is snow, go sledding. You’ll get a great workout pulling the sled up the hill and its fun! Snowshoeing and ice-skating are great options, too. Enjoy the beauty of nature and go for a hike.
• Warm-up indoors: There are a lot of great options for being active inside in the winter both at home and around town. No gym? No problem. There are many effective exercises you can do with just your body and items you have at home (planks, push-ups, crunches, wall sits, arm circles and lunges). Workout to a yoga, dance or other exercise video online or check one out at the local library for free.
Also, make household chores part of being active. Multi-task by being as active as you clean and care for your home. Vacuum an extra time or two. Make extra trips up and down stairs or set a timer to see how fast you can do different tasks. Think outside the box when running errands around town. At the grocery store take a few laps and use a basket instead of a cart if possible. Check out free community classes at schools, churches and the library. Food Sense at USU Extension offers free classes about nutrition, physical activity and cooking. Take the stairs instead of an elevator. Park farther from the entrance of whatever business you are going to.
• Make it social: Include family and friends in your physical activities. It is a great use of time, builds relationships and can make being active fun. Create a fitness club with friends. Each friend can take a turn choosing the workout of the day when you get together. Share your fitness goals with a friend. Consider ways that you can support one another in your goals. Accountability to someone else increases success rates dramatically. Playtime is a great time for physical activity. Games like Simon Says and Follow the Leader are fun and can get you moving with little ones. Make it a date! Instead of a movie, consider going for a walk, dancing or ice-skating.
• Keep it fun!: It is hard to do something that you don’t enjoy. Find what activities make you happy and that you look forward to doing. Be adventurous by trying out something new. Combine the physical activity with something you do enjoy like listening to music or an audiobook, or catching up with a friend.
Did you know the USU Extension offers community classes? Some are free and some include a fee. The Tooele Extension is located inside the Tooele County Health Department Building. USU Food Sense has a free series of classes starting Thursday Jan. 31 and running each Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for eight weeks. Come receive some amazing nutrition education and try a healthy sample. We will discuss all kinds of quick, healthy and budget friendly meals. Physical education topics will also include using Thera bands, stretching and yoga.
Sarah Patino is the Certified Nutrition Educator for Food Sense at the USU Extension – Tooele County office, which is located inside the Tooele County Health Department Building, 151 N. Main, Tooele. She can be reached at 435-277-2408 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.