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5 Tips for Staying Active During the Winter

A bundled-up biker demonstrates NEAT movement as she rides home on the Spring Creek Trail. (Taylor Sandal | College Avenue)

As the cold Colorado winds slam our doors shut, and the sun starts going down earlier and earlier, where does that leave your workout?

Between classes, jobs, and social outings, it’s difficult to find the time – and motivation – to exercise during the winter. The cold weather acts against us when we debate going out for a jog or staying wrapped up in a blanket with some hot cocoa.

But all signs point to being happier and healthier when you make a conscious effort to stay active.

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis, abbreviated as “NEAT”,  is the energy we expend towards movement other than planned exercise. This would include biking to class, a walk up the stairs, going shopping, or even cleaning.

Increasing NEAT time throughout the day may be the answer to lack of motivation towards physical activity in the winter months.

“You don’t necessarily need to come into the Rec Center all the time to say you had an active, healthy day,” said Courtney Therrien, the Personal Training Manager at the CSU Recreation Center as well as a senior studying Health and Exercise Science.

Here are some creative tips to keep your heart pumping and blood flowing this winter:

Park Off The Beaten Path

For those who drive to campus, parking close to your destination may seem like a priority to minimize time spent out in the Colorado elements. But parking a couple blocks away from normal can not only reduce traffic headaches, but also increase daily movement.

“Encourage yourself to park maybe a little bit further away and walk a little bit further to campus, because that’s physical activity,” said Therrien.

Initiate Morning Blood Flow

Have an early morning test or want to be mentally focused for your eight a.m. class? Dedicate five minutes in the morning for jumping jacks, squats, or maybe sit-ups to start the day off right.

“I’m a big fan of kind of working out throughout the day and working out in the morning, so as soon as I get out of bed I do some exercises and get the blood flowing,” Therrien said.

Set A Movement Alarm

“Throughout the day when I’m studying and just sitting there and getting cold, I’ll get up and walk around and make sure I’m just moving,” Therrien said.

Whether you’re studying in the library or sitting behind a desk, it’s easy to lose track of time. Set an alarm on your phone or watch as a reminder to get up and move for a bit.

“I personally like to do every 30 minutes, because if I’m sitting for too long I just don’t focus and I don’t comprehend anything that I’m studying,” said Therrien.

Opt For Walking Meetings

Although not ideal in every situation, it can be beneficial to plan meetings outside where two or more people can talk in stride rather than sitting down in an office.

Ideas tend to flow better as oxygen moves towards our brains as we move, therefore boosting productivity and letting those creative juices flow.

Do What Makes You Happy

If you’re not loving it, why are you doing it? Whether it’s a three-mile run or playing tennis with a buddy, there’s some type of physical activity for everyone.

Therrien tells her clients to “find something that is active that makes you truly feel happy, forget about everything else we have going on during the winter, and just do it.”

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