Get cold … it will make you feel better!

We live in Thompson, Manitoba. There is snow on the ground at least six months of the year. It’s winter a lot and that’s cool with me (pun intended).

I keep winter from being dark and dreary, literally and figuratively, by getting cold sometimes and I think you should, too. People like me often pitch us on being active in winter for physical fitness, but I am sure it does more for my mental fitness.

article continues below

When say cold, I don’t mean frostbitten or hypothermic! What I mean is below zero and sometimes mildly uncomfortable but dressed for it and safe.

I can see that from the outside, I am a bit of a stereotype for someone who would write a piece like this,… I am a 48-year-old man with a family, good job and a minivan. We are a one-vehicle family, we compost and recycle, I listen to public radio and eat mostly vegetarian.

I have always been active but the last 10 years I have really embraced active transportation. I walk and cycle to work exclusively and many other times of the day, too. I could drive around if I wanted to so this is a choice not a necessity. I get that I represent a small, somewhat privileged piece of society but we all have feelings and to me this is a pretty easy way for anyone to feel good, so get out and get cold.

Top five reasons I get cold on purpose:

  1. 73 degrees is boring.For the first time in the history of history we live in a largely climate-controlled environment. Everywhere we go is 73 degrees … our heated house, air-conditioned car, glass-walled office ... you see where I am going with this. We lose some of the good feelings that come with different temperatures at different times of the day … coming in to a warm house after a winter walk … a breeze blowing in a window on a hot day … sleeping in cold room under a big blanket. Somehow, we are starting to fear temperature changes. I think there are more good than bad feelings that come with different temperatures at different times of the day. There is joy in being outside from +30 to -30, but if you eat the same thing for lunch everyday … maybe stay inside.
  2. I’m an explorer but risk-averse.I look forward to going toe-to-toe with Mother Nature, braving some nasty weather. I feel like I have pushed myself and accomplished something that the SUVers are too soft to do. But, instead of bivouacking and eating freeze-dried rations, I still sleep on a pillowtop bed, eat fresh fruit, and I’m never more than five minutes from a safe haven. I am an outdoor adventurer and never in real danger.
  3. I double down.I listen to podcasts when I am on the move. I do double duty, getting to work and learning something or listening to an interesting story at the same time. If you are curious … my list is heavily documentary, public radio sort of stuff (stereotypical, I know) but there are some outliers in there, too (can you say Snow Day Podcast?) Email me and I’ll happily share my list.
  4. I get off my A**.I sit in a temperature-controlled office too much. Fresh air and a little vitamin D from real sunlight balance out the artificial light and help chase away SAD (seasonal affective disorder) …all a pleasant 180-degree change from the cubicle farm.
  5. White is different than green.A town looks and acts different in winter than summer … being part of the sights, sounds and smells of my city puts a smile on my slightly weathered face. In my humble opinion, all those are best experienced at a human pace.

Try getting cold, you might see there are very few really “bad” weather days and winter doesn’t feel so cold and dark … literally and figuratively. I think we’ve been tricked. We think we should get outside and be active for our physical health when for me, it’s a mental health activity.

P.S. Here are some things you probably already know about being active in winter

  1. Dress in layers … don’t worry about expensive special clothes … you are Canadian you have warm clothes … check your phone and put on more if it is cold.
  2. You need fewer clothes than you think; moving makes you warm. (Thanks, Captain Obvious.)
  3. You already know how. Walking is still just one foot in front of the other … biking is still just pushing the pedals (although maybe a little less leaning into the corners). It’s the same as every other time of year.
  4. Give yourself a little more time.
  5. Wear a tuque.
© Copyright Thompson Citizen


NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

The Thompson Citizen welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus