5 tips for staying active this fall and winter

Don’t you love this time of year? The beautiful leaves, the crisp air and cozy sweaters all feel so good after the heat of summer. As the daylight hours shorten, however, it’s easy to hunker down and start to hibernate. How can we make it easier to get off the couch and stay active, even as temperatures drop?

Exercise is important for all of us, in any kind of weather. For young adults with ID/D, daily exercise all year long is a healthy habit that contributes to successful independent living. It’s a great opportunity to be social too, and meet new friends that share common interests.

Even activity as simple as a good walk in fresh air can lift our mood, increase our energy, and help us sleep better. The sunshine boosts Vitamin D levels, which is important for immune system support.

Here are some suggestions for safe and fun cold weather exercise:

1. Be visible

Wear bright colored clothing that drivers will notice. Reflective tape is easy to find in most hardware departments, and can be added to bikes or the back of a jacket. Keep a headlamp or flashlight in a jacket pocket, in case the sun sets earlier than expected!

2. Layer up

Cotton shirts and socks are great for summer heat, but cold temperature workouts call for fabrics that pull sweat away from the body. Start with a long-sleeved moisture-wicking polyester shirt, layered with a warm fleece or wool shirt, and top off with a windbreaker or shell. These layers can be adjusted as you warm up!

3. Stay hydrated

Cold air is often drier than warm air, so staying hydrated is important to keep our bodies active. Some winter athletes fill their bottles with warmer water instead of ice water, to avoid a chill. Hot herbal tea is a great choice, too – but stay away from too much caffeine or sugary sodas.

4. Try something new

Once the snow flies, winter sports bring a whole new world of fun possibilities, and can be adapted to diverse physical abilities. Have you tried snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or downhill skiing? Look for classes or group outings with Oregon Adaptive Sports, Special Olympics Oregon, or with the adaptive recreation department at your local Park and Recreation Department.

5. Be active indoors, too!

When the weather is too blustery to enjoy an outdoors activity, indoor options abound. Dance in your kitchen, jump rope in the garage, or call some friends to go bowling. Active housework like vacuuming, sweeping or washing windows counts too, and provides the double bonus of a workout and a clean house.