Tag Archive for winter
5 Ideas to keep you active during the cold monthby Lindsay Ulrich
It’s chilly out there! We Canadians know that winters can be ruthless, and as the weather grows colder it’s easy to want to curl up and lounge on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate or bowl of soup. The transition between seasons can be tough to bear, but it’s important to stay active this winter in order to avoid falling into a sedentary sinkhole. Though skiing and snowboarding are great winter sports, they aren’t always practical for someone looking for consistent exercise. Here are some accessible options to try.
Try something different - Try replacing a part of your routine with something simple at first. Walk to the store instead of drive, or try winter biking instead of using public transport. You never know, you might end up liking the change. Or try something really different, like using your free time to take up a hobby you’ve always wanted to try, like ice sculpting, tango lessons, martial arts, or archery.
Join a gym or league – Winter is the perfect time to buy a gym membership, or participate in an indoor sport or league you’ve been interested in. While it’s cold outside, you can be working up a sweat inside with spinning, yoga, pilates, playing hockey, or kickboxing.
Lace up – Whether you prefer shinny or figure skating, the city has you covered. Toronto has over 90 free public skating rinks, and the city updates its page daily regarding the status of their rinks. Outdoor rink info can be found here (http://www.toronto.ca/parks/skating/outdoor-rinks.htm) and indoor rink info can be found here (http://www.toronto.ca/parks/prd/facilities/indoor-rinks/index.htm). Be sure to check online for indoor rink hours and allotted rink activity schedules.
Boot up – There’s nothing like the magic of a winter walk. Whether solitary, or accompanied by your friends or loved ones, a winter hike can refresh your spirits and inspire appreciation for the beauty of the season. Grab a sturdy pair of boots and get outside! Get some fresh hiking ideas at torontohiking.com, (http://www.torontohiking.com/tohi/) or check out the Toronto Outdoor Club. (http://www.torontooutdoorclub.com/)
Suit up – Change into a snowsuit and be a kid again — go tobogganing, make snow angels, or build a snow fort. Relive the snow-loving days of your youth and make a mess in that fluffy white stuff we too often love to hate.
How Seasonal Affective Disorder might be giving you the winter bluesby Lindsay Ulrich
Winter’s here and the days are grey, short, and the temperature is low. With the lack of sunlight and outdoor activity options, it’s no wonder that some of us might get a little down during the winter months. It’s not unusual for weather to affect people’s moods, and some people are more vulnerable to seasonal depression than others. If you’re experiencing a heavier spirit this winter, you may be experiencing a mild form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). On their website, The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) claims that 15% of the population in Ontario experiences a mild case of SAD, known as “the winter blues,” while between 2% and 3% experience moderate to severe SAD.
Researchers are still looking into the causes of SAD, though it is thought to be linked to seasonal sunlight variation and its affect on the way our brain regulates our internal daily rhythms. One theory, supported by research conducted by Dr. Jeffrey Meyer and colleagues at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), suggests there are higher levels of serotonin transporters in the brain during the winter months. Serotonin transmitters remove serotonin, a chemical that helps to regulate physical and emotional functions like mood and energy levels, and an increase of these transmitter levels can also mean an increase in the amount of negative emotions someone may experience. Whatever the cause, it’s important to consider the symptoms of seasonal depression.
The Canadian Mental Health Association’s list of symptoms:
- change in appetite
- weight gain
- decreased energy
- tendency to oversleep
- difficulty concentrating
- avoidance of social situations
- feelings of anxiety
What you can do about it:
First thing’s first: if you are experiencing severe feelings of hopelessness or despair, seek professional help. The symptoms of depression are temporary and treatment is very effective.
If you are like most people who experience SAD, you consider the seasonal change of mood as an unwelcome inconvenience ⎯ unpleasant, but tolerable. But there is hope for the SAD sufferers who want to take action to better their mood. Some methods that have proven results:
- · Exercise
Exercise helps to release endorphins, relieve stress, increases energy, helps you sleep better, and has been recognized as a great help to those with SAD. Exercise for people with SAD is best done outdoors since it increases exposure to sunlight.
- · Diet
Since an increased appetite, carbohydrate cravings, and weight gain are symptoms of SAD, it’s helpful to monitor your eating patterns. The Mental Health Foundation (www.mentalhealth.org.uk/) recommends whole grains, cereals, fruits, vegetables, rice, sweet potatoes, oily fish, and B12-fortified soy or yeast extract for vegetarians. Try to eat regularly to keep blood sugar levels stable, and stick to less sugary foods since they may trigger mood swings.
- · Social Support
Combating the withdrawal and isolation that often accompanies negative feelings is an important step in reducing the risk of a worsening depression. Try scheduling outings and events with friends. Even small trips, like walking to a coffee shop to read, can greatly improve your mood. Consider searching online to see if there are SAD support groups in your area.
- · Sun
Try rescheduling your day to maximize outdoor activities and exposure to sunlight. Go for a daily walk during your lunch hour. It’s also helpful to rearrange furniture at home or at work to receive sunlight from windows if possible.
- · Light therapy
Consult a healthcare provider about light therapy. Light therapy is a treatment option that exposes patients to measured doses of artificial light intended to replace the lack of summer daylight. In Canada this therapy is often started right away, and has proved extremely effective.
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Depression
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Seasonal Affective Disorder
Mental Health Foundation (MHF), Diet and Mental Health
Brighten up your winter with the season’s most colourful coatsby Megan Patterson
It’s no secret that Canadian winters are long, dark, and depressing. This is only made worse by dressing in drabs greys and blacks as most people seem to do. Want to break out of this rut? Spice up your winter wardrobe with some colour! Not only will you feel fabulous but you will never get lost in busy malls during the Christmas rush and New Year’s sales, and people will always be able to find you in the subway or even in a snowstorm.
- Go for pattern. It might not be possible to find a colourful coat for winter (unfortunately, my philosophy is only very slowly starting to be shared by the bulk of Canadian retailers), but pattern is just as good for breaking up the monotony. Where to shop for funky patterns: Rickis, Le Chateau, Sears.
- Choose a colour that suits you. Blondes look great in reds and oranges, brunettes in blues and purples, and redheads in greens and browns. But really, any colour that speaks to you is a good colour in my opinion. Where to shop for bold colours: Le Chateau, Joe Fresh.
- Accessorize with pops of colour. Too scared to make the full technicolour plunge? Accessorize instead. Get some red gloves to go with your black peacoat, yellow to go with your navy wool trench, or a bright pink scarf to go with your white puffer coat. Accessories are an inexpensive and great way to mix up your winter look without spending a lot of money. Where to shop for great accessories: Zellers, Walmart, Winners, Joe Fresh.
- Make sure the fit is good. When you’re wearing bright colours, you do want to make sure your coat fits you perfectly. It should be big enough so you can layer a bit underneath it if you need to, but not so big that it looks shapeless. To help avoid this, look for coats with belts and sashes; they will always give you a bit of shape.
Maintain Your Hardware
1) Grease moving parts at least once a week. Be sure to put a few drops on your chain, as well as some on your brake levers, brake calipers, shifters, and derailleurs where the cable attaches. Be careful not to get grease on your brake pads —it’ll reduce your braking power. If this does happen, clean the brake pads with rubbing alcohol.
Park It In The Driveway
2) Leave your bike outside. The salt on the roads will cause rust much faster if you constantly bring your bike from your warm apartment out onto the cold street and vice versa, because the metal will expand and contract, allowing the salt to work its way in.
3) Carry a lighter or alcohol-based hand sanitizer to defrost your lock. If water gets into the lock mechanism, you need a way to get the ice out and your key in.
Be a Wind Warrior
4) Dress appropriately. You’ll sweat, so you can wear less than you’d need to if you were just standing around at a bus stop, but you’ll be moving faster, so you need to protect yourself from the wind. The combination of ski goggles, a toque, and a face mask works well. Rain pants made from a breathable material are a good idea too, because there’s a lot of crud on the ground at this time of year.
Choose Your Ride Wisely
5) Ride a single-speed or a fixed-gear; the less moving parts the bike has, the less you need to maintain. A single-speed bike has one chainring at the front and one cog at the back. The cog is attached to a freewheel, allowing you to coast. Even better for winter, however, is a fixed-gear, where the cog has no freewheel and is instead directly connected to the rear hub, which means that as long as the wheel is turning, the pedals are turning.
One benefit is that you can slow down by resisting the forward motion of the pedals with your legs if your brakes get jammed up with snow or ice. Additionally, you are directly connected to the rear wheel, which gives you better traction in the snow. That said, it takes a while to learn to ride a fixed-gear, because you can’t coast, so practice on a quiet street. On the plus side, if you fall, snow is soft!