Embrace winter Make it your own

The Forks, Fort Whyte, Birds Hill Park all beckon. Or choose an indoor activity: you might find fun and exercise swatting pickleballs.

Janet Cranston Fit for Life
Janet Cranston
Fit for Life

If you let them, winters in Manitoba can be long, dark and cold. Or, if you embrace them, they can be adventurous and fun. Staying physically active 12 months of the year should be your goal. So how do you do this in the cold Manitoba months?

Winnipeg comes alive in the winter with many outdoor activities. Skating at the Forks is one of my favourite ways to stay physically active in the winter. Experience the Red River Mutual Skating Trail and enjoy the warming huts along the pathway. If you don’t have skates they are available to rent.

Take a walk at Oak Hammock Marsh and discover the birds of winter. Photo courtesy of Oak Hammock Marsh.
Take a walk at Oak Hammock Marsh and discover the birds of winter. Photo courtesy of Oak Hammock Marsh.

Cross country skiing is another wonderful outdoor activity that can be done throughout the city on groomed trails. If you have never tried, head to Fort Whyte Centre and take advantage of their rental equipment. A short drive from the city you can experience the wonders of Birds Hill Park on their many groomed skiing trails.

Fort Whyte Centre also has snowshoes that you can rent. This is a lot of fun! Or, you can head to one of the many local curling rinks. Curling provides physical activity and a wonderful social component that is so important at any age but in particular as we age.

Outdoor activities are not for everyone. There are many indoor activities that provide you with equal benefits. How about pickleball? It is a cross between tennis, badminton and ping pong, is easy for beginners to learn and is a growing trend across North America.

For those with poor balance, however, the risk of falling is great and opting for a different indoor activity might be your better choice.

Go for a mall walk, meet some new friends and join them after at the coffee shop in the mall for a nice social opportunity, or join a fitness facility and work on strengthening your muscles. The number one reason that a senior is hospitalized is because of a fall, and the most common reason for a fall is lack of core strength and lower body strength. As we age we naturally lose muscle mass and strength. It is extremely important to maintain as much of our muscle mass as possible.

If you do head outside for some fresh air and exercise remember the following:

Exercise is safe for almost everyone, even in cold weather. But if you have certain conditions, such as asthma or heart problems, check with your doctor first to review any special precautions you should take based on your condition or your medications.

Consider shortening your outdoor workout or skipping it altogether during weather extremes, and know when to head home and warm up. Also, be sure to let someone know your exercise route and your expected return time, in case something does go wrong.

Have fun, be adventurous and enjoy winter in Manitoba!

Janet Cranston is director of health and fitness at the Reh-Fit Centre.

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