March 30, 2017 7:00 am
Updated: April 4, 2017 1:26 pm

Break out of your winter workout rut


If you’re like most people, those New Year’s resolutions to go to the gym every day have already fallen by the wayside, but there are ways to get out of your winter workout rut that will not only reignite your fitness resolutions, but get you to enjoy the snowy weather.

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The best way to do that is to get away from the same boring workout routine that you’ve been doing forever and try something new. You can find an amazing list of ideas of new things to try in the ParticipACTION 150 Play List, a list of quintessentially Canadian physical activities that was chosen to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.

“They’re all different and what that represents is that there are so many ways to be active in this country,” said Katherine Janson, the Director of Communications and Public Affairs at ParticipACTION. “There are sports, activities of daily life, like snow shovelling and raking leaves, recreational activities, indigenous games, cultural activities and it just reminds us that you don’t need to go to the gym or put on a team jersey to be active in Canada.”

Sweating on a gym treadmill while watching TV can get boring quickly, so Janson suggests that people get outside and enjoy the winter weather as a family by doing something physically active like building a snowman, digging a snow fort or having a snowball fight.

“We know that it can be cold in Canada, but rather than endure the cold, I think what the Play List suggests is that we should embrace the cold,” said Janson.


“There are your classic Canadian activities [on the ParticipACTION150 Play List] like skating, hockey and Nordic skiing, which can all be great to introduce to children or do as a family, but there are also some things you can do in your backyard or in a park such as building a snowman, tobogganing or, if you want to be really adventurous, there’s also dogsledding. There is a whole array of different activities depending on where you live and what is big in your community. There’s definitely something snow-related on the list for you.”

Another strategy to get your winter exercise in is to remind yourself that some of those unpleasant chores that you do around the house can be a workout in themselves. A good example is shovelling. Consider cancelling the snow-clearing contract for your driveway and shovel it yourself. You’ll not only save money, but you’ll get your heart pumping while you do it.

“The activities of daily life really count towards the minutes of physical activity you need each day to be healthy,” said Janson. “That might include household chores like shovelling snow or gardening. Those are all on the Play List and those are things you need to do every day that maybe you’ll enjoy doing more if you realize they’re actually healthy for you at the same time as knocking things of your to-do list.”

Another way to stay active is to join a team. Having a schedule, and knowing your teammates are counting on you to show up, will motivate you to leave the house. In winter, hockey and curling are popular team sports, but there’s also ringette and broomball, not to mention indoor leagues for basketball, volleyball, soccer and a host of other sports.

“Different people have different motivations for getting physically active, so it’s about finding something that you love and something that works for you, but scheduling something into your calendar is definitely a trick to making physical activity a habit,” said Janson. “If you know that your walking partner or your volleyball team or your running club is expecting you to show up on Tuesday at 6 pm, you’re way more likely to do it.”

Everyone knows that physical activity has a role to play in preventing chronic diseases, but the benefits of being active go beyond the obvious and the act of staying fit feeds a positive feedback loop that perpetuates itself once we begin.

“Sometimes we forget that physical activity has a huge role to play in promoting healthy sleep, promoting mental health, reducing anxiety and stress so sometimes when we are busy parents or a busy person at work, we’re so stressed and so busy that we can’t possibly get to the gym and the reality is that you don’t have to go to the gym to get active, you can take a brisk walk at lunch or choose to bike to work,” said Janson. “But it’s those times that when you are running on empty that being physically active can be a great stress relief and help you manage the rest of your life so it’s really about prioritizing physical activity because when you are more active and more healthy, it will help you do these other things.”


To find ideas for new physical activities to power your winter exercise, find the ParticipACTION 150 Play List at


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