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Ring in the New Year with Physical Activity

Alyssa Carlson, Graduate Research Assistant, NDSU

January brings New Year’s resolutions, a popular one being working out more often and increasing physical activity. However, with the snow, cold weather and short days, people lose opportunities to get outside and be active. Not only do these factors limit outdoor activities such as walking and biking, but they also restrict daily outdoor activities such as gardening. For those who don’t like going to the gym, this can be problematic. Physical activity is important to living a healthy lifestyle, and the weather changes during the winter months shouldn’t prevent you from being active.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week. Meeting this goal can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even some cancers. For older adults, regular physical activity can help prevent falls and manage arthritis pain. Physical activity also can help cure the “winter blues” by increasing energy level, helping sleep, and improving mood, making it even more important during those winter months!

Despite the snow and cold, on most days we can be physically active outdoors. Just remember: layers, layers, layers. If you’re properly dressed to manage the cold, outdoor activities can be really fun! Try one of the following winter activities by yourself, with your kids or grandkids, or with others resolving to be more active in the New Year:

  • Go skiing or cross-country skiing
  • Go snowshoeing
  • Go ice skating
  • Shovel the driveway, sidewalk, or a maze in the yard
  • Build a snowman or snow fort
  • Have a snowball fight
  • Go sledding
  • Spray paint the snow using colored water
  • Walk the dog (physical activity for pets is important too!)
  • Have a hockey or broomball game


For those days that you get home after dark or it’s too cold to be outside, try some indoor options for physical activity as well. If you don’t have a gym membership, try visiting a local indoor pool or walking at the mall or local school. If you are snowed in, do a workout video or walk in place during your favorite television show. Every little bit of activity helps. Keep that in mind this January, and have an active, healthy, and happy New Year!

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Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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