Erratic weather aside, the outdoors can be a lot of fun at this time of the year. There’s still plenty of snow around for skiing and boarding, and it’s getting light enough to enjoy a run after work. But whatever your choice of activity this month, here are six things to ensure you enjoy your day to the fullest.
Simply making it out the door on an inclement day is an achievement. When it’s wet and wild, the temptation can be to stay indoors. However, blowing out the cobwebs by getting out in the weather is hugely beneficial for your physical and mental wellbeing1. It may be difficult to leave the fireside when it’s raining, but getting out in the rain is very invigorating. The rhythm of rain is soothing, you’ll burn more calories in the cold, and you’ll go home with a great sense of achievement. A quick tip: wear tight-fitting tops and bottoms if it’s pouring to avoid the dreaded chafe.
As the old adage goes, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. Make sure you wear the right clothes for the conditions2 – moisture wicking fabrics that will ensure you stay warm if you work up a sweat or get caught in the rain, and plenty of layers so you can strip off if the sun comes out and it heats up. Good socks, gloves and a hat can make the difference between a good day and a bad day. And remember, your body will cool down after exercise way faster when it’s cold out, so make sure to toss a change of clothes into your bag for afterwards so you don’t get chilled.
You probably don’t feel as thirsty during winter3, but it’s always important to keep your fluids up while you’re active. If you’re lucky enough to be skiing, the mountain air is much drier than what you’re probably used to, which can make you thirsty without realising. If you’re in a particularly cold spot, drinking hot drinks such as soup, tea, or even heated juice, will do double duty in hydration and warming. And when it’s all over, there’s nothing more warming on a chilly evening than mulled wine or a hot toddy.
We shouldn’t need to remind you how important it is to warm up4 before exercise. But when it’s cold out, it’s tempting to skip the warm up and get into the action right away – especially if you’ve battled your way to the head of the lift queue. But before the first run of the day or first whistle blows, a few simple exercises and dynamic stretches will prepare your body for activity and help protect your muscles from injury. There’s nothing to stop you doing a few warm up drills in the warmth indoors before you head out. Just remember, the more intense your sport, the more warmed up you will need to be before you begin5.
It can be a real struggle to maintain your fitness over winter. Sometimes, you’ve got your gear ready and your game face on, but suddenly the weather goes south… and so does your motivation. What you need is something to ensure you get out the door regardless. An easy solution is to join a team. Rugby, soccer, hockey and netball are Kiwi winter favourites, but there are plenty of others too. If you prefer individual sports, the cooler months are packed with running and cycling events – pick a distance that suits and the terrain you like and sign up today. Rope in a friend and train together to ensure you both stay motivated. If inclement weather is really not your thing, there are loads of indoor activities – there’s always the pool, or you could try something completely new, like aerial yoga or a circus class.
Whether you’re making the most of spring skiing or simply going for a run around the block, make sure you’re protected if something were to go wrong. Remember your sunscreen, even when it's cold out. Snow bunnies should have an icepack and liniment in their First Aid kit for aches and sprains, while runners should be prepared to treat blisters and chafing as well.
It’s also good to get health insurance that will cover you for things like seeing a GP and physio to help straighten the kinks if you were to take a tumble. While you're at it, don't forget to get cover for hospital and specialist appointments too, because you never know what's around the corner. Get the boring stuff sorted, and then you can enjoy the fun stuff like sliding down the mountain and splashing through puddles.