Staying Active This Winter

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As the weather starts to become colder, we are more likely to spend the majority of our time indoors. As a result, it is easy to slow down and become less active. Physical activity, whether planned or part of our daily tasks, has numerous benefits. Regular exercise reduces the risk of certain chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. It also helps in managing arthritis and strengthening bones and muscles. Finally, staying active improves mood and mental health. How do you plan to stay active this winter?

Exercise, no matter the season, does not have to be expensive. Many activities can be done from the comfort of your home. Yoga is a great example. Practicing yoga regularly can help in maintaining mobility and flexibility, which reduces the risk of falls. Muscle building activities using one’s own body weight are another great choice and range in difficulty. It is recommended to choose activities appropriate for your current abilities and to talk with your healthcare provider before starting something new.

If you struggle with holding yourself accountable, it may help to find others who enjoy similar activities. For example, try finding a walking partner and create a plan on where and when you will meet up. If walking outside, make sure to wear warm clothing. Or, try joining a group exercise class such as Zumba, water aerobics, or cycling. There are numerous resources available throughout Lee County that support regular physical activity.

Set goals that are meaningful to you and realistic. Although weight loss tends to be a common goal, recent research suggests that weight should not be the main motivator. Weight is influenced by a variety of factors, some of which are outside of our control. For various reasons, not everyone sees dramatic weight loss when changing their exercise routines. Many people may view this as lack of success on their part and lose motivation. However, this is not the case! Instead, focus on goals that motivate and encourage you. Great short-term goals incorporate when and how you plan to be active. Long-term goals could be running or walking a 5k, completing a group fitness class series, increasing overall flexibility, or reducing your blood pressure.

The N.C. Cooperative Extension in Lee County’s goal is to provide the residents of the community with research-based knowledge. For more information on food safety, wellness, and nutrition please contact the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Alyssa Anderson, MS, RDN, LDN at 919-775-5624.