Golf & Sports

Socially Distanced Sports This Winter

Winter is just around the corner for those of us in the northern hemisphere. Depending on where you live, you may have already seen a first coating of snow, or experienced a drop in temperatures.

cross country skiing, winter sports, cold weather, activities, outdoors, snow, physical, mental, health, staying active, older adults, seniors, social distance, trails, tracks(Cross Country Skiing Photo: Oliver Dickerson via Unsplash)

Unfortunately, this winter is going to be a little different for most of us. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the country, with some states and provinces seeing more cases than ever. It’s important to remain safe and take the right preventative measures all winter long.

For older individuals, it’s equally important to stay healthy and active during the winter months. Keeping your mind active will also help to fight off feelings of loneliness and isolation that can come with social distancing and quarantine restrictions, regardless of how old you are.

One of the best ways to stay active physically and keep your mood upbeat, even in cold weather, is to try a sport. Yes, older adults can play sports, so don’t let your age hold you back. This is the perfect time to try something new or to pick up an old pastime that you haven’t enjoyed in years.

So, what are the best winter sports that will allow you to stay socially distanced and safe this season?

Winter Outdoor Sports

Getting outside may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you see several inches of snow on the ground. But, winter sports are incredibly popular, and the more you’re moving the less likely you are to get cold!

Depending on what you’re comfortable with, the sky is truly the limit when it comes to winter sports. You might not want to jump on a snowboard and go careening down a hill on it anytime soon, however, cross-country skiing is a great way to burn calories, build muscle, and strengthen your heart. It’s even something you can enjoy doing with a friend or family member while remaining 6 feet or more apart. Cross-country skiing is also a fantastic way to appreciate the beauty of winter on pre-made trails or in wooded areas.

Other outdoor activities that can improve your cardiovascular fitness, vein health, and boost your energy and strength while you maintain a social distance, include:

Snowshoeing

Ice skating

Sledding / tobogganing

Snowmobiling

You can even choose to stay active while unleashing your inner child. Build a snow fort with your kids or grandchildren, or have a good old-fashioned snowball fight. You might be surprised at how active you have to be to keep up with them, but you’ll be having so much fun it won’t feel like work.

If you really like it, you can even take it up as a sport! That’s right, Yukigassen (competitive snowball fight) is a sport in Japan, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Australia, the United States (Alaska), and Canada (Alberta, and Saskatchewan). 

Indoor Activities for Winter Months

People have been spending more time at home due to COVID-19, and it doesn’t look like that will change much this winter. Thankfully, quarantining at home doesn’t mean you can’t stay active. 

Thanks to technology, there are plenty of workout options you can utilize at home. Most of them are even free on YouTube – look up channels like FitnessBlender or Blogilates. If you want to be active indoors but don’t want an intense workout, try following Leslie Sansone’s indoor walking routines, meant for all ages.

One way you can keep yourself strong during the winter is to do some kind of strength training at home. Most seniors don’t think about building muscle the way younger people might. But, keeping your strength up is crucial for your overall health. Strength training for older individuals can help to keep your body from becoming frail. It will also maintain your bone density, improve your balance, and increase your mobility.

You don’t necessarily have to lift heavy weights to get a good strength routine in. Work against your own muscles with squats, or start by lifting soup cans or other lightweight items you can find around the house. Even the smallest amount of weight / resistance, can make a big difference in your strength. 

Importance of Physical and Mental Health

Winter can be a tough time for older adults. There are more health risks to consider, as well as more seasonal dangers, including frostbite, slips and falls, and other injuries.

Seniors are already at a greater risk of feeling isolated and lonely. Many older adults are among the 10 million Americans that struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD can cause problems such as

  • feelings of hopelessness
  • decreased energy
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritability
  • changes in eating and/or sleeping habits

It’s crucial to take care of both your physical and mental health this coming winter. Staying active and eating the right foods can help to boost your mood and give you energy. 

If you find that you’re struggling more than usual, make your mental health a priority. Talk to your doctor, see a therapist or counselor, and don’t delay in seeking treatment for anxiety or depression. If you’re worried about how you would pay for mental health services, look into what’s covered by your private insurance provider vs. public healthcare plans (Medicare, etc.). 

We’re living in uncertain times, and this could be a long and stressful winter for many people. Do your best to take care of your mental health and stay physically active; wear a mask if you’re going to be around other people; and don’t be afraid to try a new sport or activity that can help you beat boredom, while reducing your stress levels this winter.

*This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical or mental health advice, nor is it a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician or mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. In the event of a medical emergency, call a doctor or 911 immediately. This website does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site or on *other websites it links to. Reliance on any information provided by this website or other websites it links to, is solely at your own risk.*

Frankie Wallace

Frankie Wallace is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. With an English degree from the University of Montana, Frankie writes about a variety of topics around health and lifestyle. In her spare time, she can be found gardening or cuddling with her cat Casper.

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