Exercising in Winter

I was asked to write this blog for our family health team's quarterly patient newsletter, but then I thought that maybe this could benefit many more people, so I changed it a bit and posted it here.


Winter is upon us (although it currently doesn't feel that way) and for many people living in Toronto, this means a decrease in physical activity. But it doesn't have to! There are plenty of fun ways to move your body both outdoors and indoors this winter. 


Benefits of Being Physically Active All Year Long

The list of the benefits of exercise is a long one, so here are some of my favourites:

- Improved mood

- Increased energy levels

- Increased strength

- Improved self-esteem

- Improved sleep

- Improved blood pressure

- Improved blood sugars


Ready to Get Moving, But Looking for Some Ideas?

Walking Trails can be found on the City of Toronto website (www1.toronto.ca). Here you can search for Natural Environment Trails, Discovery Walks, and much more. This year, there was a big ceremony held in the beaches as they lit up the boardwalk with Christmas lights....the lights will illuminate your evening walks until February 17th, 2017. If you don’t like walking alone, there are many Walking Groups you can join (listed on the website above).


Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing can be great cardiovascular workouts that really allow you to embrace winter! Find a trail and rent some skis/snowshoes...if you enjoy it you can buy some in sports stores (and second-hand sports stores).


 Many would say that Skating is Canada’s national winter pastime. There are plenty of indoor and outdoor rinks in Toronto for you to glide across the ice. If you've never been on skates before, there are many rinks that offer skate rentals as well as lessons.


For those of you with joint pain, Aquafit might be right for you. Being in the water takes the pressure off your joints and the water provides resistance to help you gain strength. Most pools used for aquafit are kept at warmer temperatures than the pools used for lane swimming. If you're interested in trying out a class without commitment, many pools across the city (ie Regent Park Aquatic Centre) offer FREE classes!


If working out in a Gym is your thing, there are plenty of gyms and studios in Toronto to choose from, depending on what your budget and needs/wants are. There is program called Class Pass (http://www.classpass.com) that allows you to sign up for classes at numerous fitness studios all over the city for a fee. I had no idea how many small studios (ie spin, yoga, dance, pilates, etc) are all over the city until I signed up. Now the possibilities are nearly endless! Another option is Groupon; they frequently have offers for fitness classes, to give you a chance to try it out without committing to an annual membership. Parks and Recreation even offers some free drop-in workout space and classes, regardless of your income or neighbourhood (in other words, you don't have to live in the neighbourhood where the free classes are offered). They also offer a Welcome Policy, for those who cannot afford to join their regular programs. For more information, check out their website: http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly



Maybe you enjoy the equipment and group classes that gyms offer, but you find gyms intimidating. There are many size-inclusive gyms and studios around the city. Some of these include: Variety Village, YMCA, Parks and Recreation, Fitzone-Plus, and Yoga For Round Bodies, to name a few.


If you like walking, but walking outside in the winter might not be safe for you due to the ice, Mall walking is a great option. Call your local mall to learn what they offer.


If you're not in Toronto, that's ok; many cities offer similar opportunities. The point of this was to give you some ideas. And remember: every little bit counts. So find something you enjoy and have some fun with it!