Why You Should Get Outside In The Winter

People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy

– Anton Chekhov

I’ll be concise with what I want to get across here: don’t let winter stop you from getting outside and being physically active! With the shorter days and much less sunlight, we all have a tendency to almost hibernate and stay inside binge watching Netflix.

With the arrival of winter comes a flood of negativity and constant complaints about the season.

I know it can be hard – you head to work and it’s dark out and you finish work and it’s dark out. It’s always cold. There’s slush and snow everywhere. The air hurts your face. You have to wear a billion layers. The list goes on and on. (I’m making it sound really appealing aren’t I?)

While we hardly have a tendency to focus on the positives of the season, they are there!

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Winter Exercise is Good For You 

It goes without saying but any exercise is good exercise, especially in the winter and even more so outdoors. As it does with other forms of depression, exercise can help alleviate seasonal affective disorder (SAD), too, with benefits increasing if exercising outdoors. It also ensures that you are actually taking in daylight in a season rife with fleeting light (assuming you go out and exercise during the day).

There’s also something to be said about those snowy nights when you’re out there enjoying what no one else is. There’s nothing like the feeling of running during a fresh snowfall, looking back and seeing the track that you’ve made. You’re out there working towards your goals, when you could be inside watching TV in the cozy warmth of your home. And the cold air out there really isn’t THAT bad, just dress warm! Hey, at least we can add layers! There are only so many layers we can take off during hot summer days.

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Snowy Canal Run

Another reason I love running outside in the winter is because it’s so much more fun than being on a treadmill. Yes, I know that makes me sound crazy. But the other day for instance, I went on a 7K run with my friend Audrey and it basically consisted of dodging giant puddles, running through omnipresent slush and getting drenched by freezing rain. And you know what? It was ridiculously fun and so worth it.

Oh and packed snow is softer than pavement, just saying.

I’m sure it’s the product of being Canadian, but there’s something about enduring the elements during these long, cold months, that makes you feel more resilient and hardened come spring. When spring does arrive, those warmer weather runs and races can seem like a walk in the park compared to all the training runs you put yourself through in below freezing temperatures.

Appreciation for Four Seasons

How great is it that we even have seasons? Having them ensures that there’s variety throughout every month of the year and of course allows us to engage in seasonal specific activities (skiing, skating and snowshoeing anyone?). There’s beauty in every season and going through the winters that we have up in Ottawa only makes you appreciate the warm and sunny days even more.

Winter hikes bring me back to being a kid and having endless fun outside with my brothers, and always looking forward to the first snowfall. And when you’re out there on the trails, running swiftly and breathing in cold air with good company, you feel completely free. It also makes hot food and warm drinks feel even better!

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First Skate of the Season – Rideau Canal

Winter Can Actually be Beautiful

The snow has a way of transforming a familiar sight into something completely novel and ethereal (e.g fresh snow on a canopy of trees).

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Wolf Trail – Late Autumn
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Wolf Trail – Middle of Winter

As for winter hikes, well not much needs to be said. The further away from the city you get, the more beautiful winter becomes. You’re not dealing with that grimy, black, slushy snow. You get the pure, white, fluffy stuff.

Case in point:

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Lauriault Trail – Gatineau Park

 It gets even more brilliant during golden hour, especially the day after a snowfall. On Christmas Day, I went on an amazing hike with my brother and we were lucky to have perfect conditions.

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Prior to Ascending the Hill
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Approaching Mahingan Lookout

More often then not, you’ll end up having the trails and streets to yourself and whoever you happen to be with. On the trails especially, it can make for a very peaceful outing!

So get out there and make the most of the season. The cold air out there really isn’t as bad as we make it out to be and you may even find yourself liking winter! (or at least tolerating it a bit more).

Thanks for reading!

– Steven


 

 

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