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Learn how to avoid the winter blues, stay healthy, and do it all safely!

Submitted by: Rob Little, BA Hon Kinesiology, CCAA Research Assistant

Stay warm

  • Cold weather tends to increase blood clotting, decrease blood vessel diameter, and is associated with an increased risk of heart attack. So take the proper precautions and remember that exercising to become healthier will decrease these risks significantly!
  • Remember to warm-up well before exercising and cool down after. For example, walk at an easy pace for about 10 minutes before increasing to a more challenging pace, and walk another 10 minutes at an easy pace at the end of your session as well.
  • Most of your body’s heat loss will come from your head and neck, so a wool hat and a scarf will work wonders! The scarf will also warm the air you breathe in and add moisture to it, which will reduce the chances of pesky throat irritation.
  • Thermion, Thermax, Thinsulate, and other polypropylene-based synthetic fabrics are the best materials to wear as your base layer. These will allow your sweat to transfer to your other clothing layers to keep it off of your skin and prevent cooling. Cotton clothing is not ideal for base layer.
  • Mittens are a great idea as they allow the heat from the hands to circulate around the fingers.
  • For more information on dressing for the colder weather, see the American College of Sports Medicine’s brochure on Selecting and Effectively Using Clothing for Inclement Weather
  • Also see the National Institute of Aging's Stay Safe in Cold Weather Brochure

Beware the (common) cold!

  • According to most cold researchers, damp, or cold weather does not increase your risk of catching a cold. People with colds tend to stay indoors, as do most people during the cold winter months, and this simply increases the contact between people and thus the chances of spreading a cold.
  • People who exercise report fewer colds than their inactive peers and moderate exercise has been shown to cause several positive changes in the immune system. But most of these are fairly temporary, so regular exercise is key!
  • Wash your hands regularly, have sanitizer handy, and avoid close contact with those with colds.
  • For more information, see the American College of Sports Medicine’s Current Comment on Exercise and the Common Cold


  • Dehydration is one of the most common reasons for hospitalization in people over 65 years old, and as you age your body becomes less effective at telling you when it’s thirsty.
  • Even if you don’t feel thirsty, you should regularly drink water.

Don't think you're fit for exercise?

  • Talk to your doctor! It can be quite reassuring to have that personal and professional confirmation that you are ready to get active. Don’t be shy about voicing any of your concerns! One of the greatest deterrents to getting active is uncertainty about both what you can do and what you should do.
  • To see just how much exercise is ideal, check out the updated Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for Older Adults!
  • And to see what counts as “exercise” check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

What exercises can I do?

  • Avoid outdoor activity in the extreme cold (follow wind-chill advisories in the news).
  • Walk in local malls, join a health club or indoor sports league (remember, fun exercise doesn’t feel like exercise!).
  • Hand weights and exercise bands are great if you have access to them.
  • Check out this great resource for exercises that you can do in your own home

Go enjoy the season!

Submitted by: Rob Little, BA Hon Kinesiology, CCAA Research Assistant




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Don Paterson
Research Director
Candian Centre for Activity and Aging
Phone: 519.661.1606 x81606

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