11/18/2021 0 Comments
Staying Active in the winter
Exercise for all ages is important to improve our physical and mental health. The CDC recommends at least 60 minutes per day of physical activity for kids ages 6-17 and the CDC and WHO recommends 150 minutes or more per week of moderate activity for adults. It’s also the case that any exercise is better than staying sedentary! Here in Montana, winter is settling in which can really change the game for accessing the easier modes of fitness outdoors. At Alpine, we highly encourage all of our friends, co-workers, family, and clients to make a plan to get out and keep moving this winter. We acknowledge that when conditions begin to get icy, recreational opportunities get more challenging and it is important to be safe. Here are some suggestions from our Physical Therapists.
Brace Hayden, our balance specialist says, “I often advise people to head for the indoor options when outdoor temperatures and sidewalk or trail conditions get hazardous. Getting a set of traction cleats (ie. YakTrax) for your shoes or boots can make the outdoor walks much more safe. The Southgate Mall is a free, warm, and flat option for the non-gym-going folks. Per their website, the ‘Southgate Mall is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. For mall walkers, the doors will open early at 9:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday.’ He is also frequently heard spouting advice about how a metal-tipped walking stick (ie. a ski pole) and good foot wear are worth it because they provide better traction and reduce falls. Another little nugget mentioned was keeping a small bag of cat litter or gravel handy when getting out of the car onto a potentially icy parking lot.
A set of traction cleats like YakTrax were a recurring suggestion from our PTs. Kristina Pattison reminds us that, “many trails around Sentinel, Blue Mountain, and Waterworks are used year round and accessible if you have traction. Remember though, staying on the trail even in icy conditions also protects trails from erosion, braiding and trampling our wildflowers.”
In the words of Leah Versteegen (who spent two years in Norway…), “I think it is important to remember the Scandinavian philosophy of 'there is no bad weather, just bad clothing.' It is so easy to make excuses in the winter months to not get outside because of the weather. Bundle up and get some fresh air!”
Winter is also a time to take up some new sports if you are feeling adventurous. As Angela Listug-Vap says, “if you can hike, you can snowshoe.” And she shares that the Missoula Parks and Recreation department puts on annual clinics to teach snowshoeing and cross country skiing if you feel you would benefit from a little guidance.
If you aren’t quite as adventurous, Dennis McCrea reminds us that, “the paved walking paths at the Fort Missoula and the river trail, which spans from Silver Park and Ogren Field all the way to the University, are usually cleared off regularly, fairly flat and are a good outdoor walking venue. It is also a good time to work on leg strengthening and balance.” Gary Gales has a great suggestion for staying at home, but continuing an exercise routine. “PBS offers some great guided home exercises classes. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10:30 a.m there are 23 minute Sit and Be Fit classes and on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:30 a.m there are Essential Stretch classes which are a little more challenging. PBS also has 6 a.m Essential Stretch and Yoga classes. These classes are geared for older adults and make it easy to remember the time and what's on. They are convenient and performed in their home when considering COVID transmission and hesitancy about gym exercise.”
So, as the days get shorter and the snow starts flying, don’t forget there are lots of options to keep your body moving. Look out the window and decide if it’s an outside or inside kind of day, but make a plan to keep your exercise routines going. Alpine Physical Therapy is here for you to help with your movement needs!
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