Snowy, Safe Exercise
One of the best parts of life in Michigan is our four distinct, wildly different seasons.
Each one presents new challenges and opportunities for exercising outdoors. However, doing so safely can seem daunting. With many gyms limiting class sizes, there has never been a better time to experiment with getting active in the winter air.
One of the biggest hurdles is mindset, working up the courage to take the first few steps outdoors — so we talked to Cara Zerbel of Gazelle Sports about how to prepare. If you’re bundled up right, working out in the winter can even be — dare we say — enjoyable!
“Winter exercise is about head-to-toe moisture and warmth management,” Zerbel said. “Think layers of technical fabrics that work together to move moisture away from your body.” When it comes to exercising in winter, skip the athleticwear made of cotton and opt for polyester or synthetic fabrics.
There’s an art to laying your outfit before heading outside. The first step is a thin, technical layer which will wick moisture away from your body. A second layer, like a quarter-zip fleece, will help hold heat in. On especially wet days, add a third, water repellent layer to help keep moisture and wind out. To top it all off, a pair of gloves, hat, athletic mask and moisture-wicking socks will keep you warm for hours.
And, Layer Down
A key component to staying warm and dry when exercising outside is to remove layers as you warm up. Nothing will make you cold faster than keeping sweaty clothes in close contact with your skin. The goal when working out in cold weather is to keep moisture off the body. Weather permitting, remove your outermost layer and tie it around your waist the moment you start to heat up.
Invest in Technical Gear
Planning your outfit is just the first step to exercising safely outdoors. Making sure you’re seen and protecting yourself from slipping on snow and ice is the second. “It’s also about safety, so your outer layer should always be bright and or reflective,” Zerbel said. “Pair it with blinking lights and increased traction for your shoes on the snowy days.”
If you’re running with spikes, stay off pavement as they’re designed for snow and ice only. Gazelle Sports in Grand Rapids has options to help you gain traction on even the slickest days. A great low-cost investment for exercising outdoors safely is a headlamp or a beanie with a built in LED light.
Save Your Skin
It’s difficult to cover every layer of your skin when exercising outdoors, so it’s important to protect exposed areas where possible. The number one thing you can’t skip is sunscreen. Even though the temperatures are cold, the sun’s rays are still strong and harmful, especially on sunny days. An ultra-hydrating moisturizer will help protect chapped and dry skin while the sunscreen protects from UV rays. A quick swipe of a petroleum rich lip balm will protect your lips from the cold and wet air.
It’s a Mental Game
“We live in Michigan, so we’ve learned to embrace the winter weather at least a little bit in most areas of our lives and exercising outdoors is no different,” Zerbel said. One of the biggest hurdles when it comes to taking your fitness routine into the winter wonderland is mindset. The easiest way to “push play” on your winter workout is by warming up indoors first. If you break a sweat in the warmth and comfort of our own home, it will be less of a shock when you set foot outside.
Cool Down Properly
There are endless benefits to warming up and cooling down properly when working out. After a long run or HIIT workout, you need to bring your nervous system back to a normal level. Start by decreasing the intensity of your workout 5-10 minutes before you wrap. Then, head indoors, remove some layers, and stretch it out. Since your body is warm, now is a good time for static stretches, twists and perhaps a few minutes of mindfulness.
The best part about working out in the cold is heading inside, ditching your layers and heading into a steaming hot shower. Finish it off with a hot drink of your choice and reflect on the positive experiences of exercising during one of Michigan’s best seasons.
Ski, Snowshoe + Sled: Where to Adventure Outdoors
As we get older, we forget the feeling of being a child all bundled up, playing in the snow. 2021 is the year to explore your inner kid! Grab your best snow boots and handwarmers and try something new this year with these endless outdoor adventure options.
Palmer Park, Wyoming – Cross-country ski trails and rentals, all in one place.
Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus, Grand Rapids – Check out their offering of winter gear rentals, including cross-country and snowshoes.
Echo Valley Sport Park, Kalamazoo – Reach speeds of up to 60 MPH on their Everslide tobogganing trails.
Ludington State Park, Ludington – 20 miles of pristine trails and views of Lake Michigan and Au Sable Lighthouse. Escape the city life for hours of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing through one of West Michigan’s best kept secrets.
Bittersweet Resort, Otsego – Head to the mountain for 350 vertical feet, 20 runs, seven chair lifts, two wonder carps and two rope tows.
Mulligan’s Hollow, Grand Haven – The local ski hill located right on the shores of Lake Michigan. Rentals available.
Cannonsburg, Belmont – Fill your day with skiing, snowboarding, winter tubing and snow biking. There’s something for everyone in the family to try.
Indian Trails, Grand Rapids – Grab your fat bike and hit the trails. Snowshoe rentals available as well.
Blandford Nature Center, Grand Rapids – These expansive 264 acres are an amazing snowshoe wonderland. Rentals are available.
#CozyAF - Create the Hygge House of Your Dreams
Hygge is our happy place. It’s where comfort, warmth, self-care, good books, candles and all the wonderful little touches that make home feel like home meet. We’ve spent more time than ever indoors this year. Take a little extra holiday cash (thanks, Mom!) and splurge on a few selfcare and home goods to make yourself and your space extra cozy.
What is Hygge?
If you don’t know, Hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”) is the Danish way of intentional living. It incorporates the wonderful coziness of being indoors with the intention of self-care. Hygge isn’t one specific thing but rather a feeling. A cup of hot chocolate after sledding is Hygge. A face mask while marathoning The Crown is Hygge. Playing games while bundled up at home via Zoom with friends you love is very Hygge.
To boil it down, Hygge means:
- Slow your roll
- Be content with the simplicity of life
- Live in an atmosphere that makes you happy (and cozy)
- Create a connection with yourself and the people around you
There is no right or wrong way to incorporate Hygge into your life. It all boils down to identifying the things that you enjoy that make you feel at home. There’s nothing fancy or expensive, which makes Hygge accessible to everyone. However, there are small items you can invest in that really kick it up a notch — think candles and face masks. Spend time on the simple pleasures, like pouring a cup of tea and opening a new book.
Urban You for Me Skincare Subscription (Grand Rapids) – Bring the post-glow feeling from a day at the spa home with the Urban You for Me subscription services. The monthly plans allow you to curate an experience that meets you where you’re at — financially and with your skincare goals. Each subscription comes with the starter kit, which includes a few luxe items to bring your spa day skincare experience into your home. From there, subscriptions include a variety of services like how-to video libraries, skincare products and personal consultations.
To and Fro Activewear Boutique (Ada) – Grab yourself a pair of comfy loungewear that not only feels great but looks amazing. To and Fro in Ada features a wide variety of activewear brands for everything from shoes to socks to lounge pants. Stock up on a few of their face masks and candles while you’re at it.
Leon and Son Wine Shop (Grand Rapids) – Cozy up in a bubble bath with a tingly glass of Pét-Nat or a fresh skin contact from Georgia. Leon and Son have a recommendation for any mood or meal. Every bottle is hand-selected for the shop and features unique stories and flavors you can’t find anywhere else.
Cozy Up Your Home
Commune (Grand Rapids) – A general store owned and operated by the dynamic duo of Rebel GR, Commune is a highly curated collection of household goods that blend together mindfulness and everyday luxuries. The style is highly inspired by the desert aesthetics of America’s southwest. Explore collections of crystals, body lotions, lip balms, jewelry and tarot cards. Grab a candle and some crystals to set up a meditation station in the comfort of your own home.
Mason Jar Plant Shop (Kalamazoo) – Cultivate a lively indoor environment with one or two new plant friends. The friendly staff at Mason Jar Plant Shop will help you find the perfect home addition for any light environment. Oftentimes, taking care of something else can be a form of self-care. With all this time at home, your plant babies will be looking fine and growing new leaves in no time.
The Found Cottage (Hudsonville) – The perfect mix of antiques and curated gifts, Found Cottage is our go-to spot to snag a cozy candle, new set of throw pillows and a meaningful antique. Each booth in the sprawling store has its own unique Hygge feel. Grab something for yourself and a friend too, because nothing makes you feel better than sending something sweet to a friend in need.