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Get the Most Out of Winter Walking

Don’t let cold weather stop you from burning calories and having fun with friends.

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Trying to get in shape? You can walk yourself to better health—and you don’t have to do it alone. A recent study suggests that regular walking outdoors can lower the risk of serious conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, stroke and even depression.

Walking with a group can make fitness fun and social, boosting both your physical and emotional health. It can be a great activity that can allow you to see family and friends while also social distancing—just be sure to wear a mask if you are walking in a crowded area.

Don’t wait for hotter weather. Check out these ways to stay active and safe during chilly winter walks.

Note: Talk to your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise routine.

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

Find someone you can rely on

2 / 5 Find someone you can rely on

Your first step should be to find a group or buddy who is willing to commit to regular walking. Michael Roizen, MD, explains how you can find that perfect health buddy to keep you motivated in his book, This is Your Do-Over. Whether it’s a co-worker, close friend or family member, knowing you have someone counting on you can help you brave the cold and make walking a year-round habit. One thing to note during the pandemic—be sure your walking buddy is at lower risk for a severe infection from COVID-19. 

 

Don’t Skip a Scarf

3 / 5 Don’t Skip a Scarf

Scarves aren’t just for covering your neck. Having a facial covering can protect your lungs and help you avoid picking up a virus. Cold and flu viruses love cold weather, so placing a scarf or mask over your nose and mouth can help keep in moisture to warm the air before you inhale. Another plus: because your head and face are five times as sensitive to cold as other body parts, a scarf can retain heat to keep you warmer longer.

Have a Plan B

4 / 5 Have a Plan B

Research shows that walking outside has great physical and mental benefits. Dr. Roizen claims that a scenic walk can work as a brain booster to rev up memory and focus your mind.

If it’s too cold, wet, icy or windy to walk with your buddy or group outside, have a backup plan. It may be staying at home on your own treadmill or waiting for a day with better weather. As much as you may want to walk, it isn't worth potentially falling on ice.

Grab your shades

5 / 5 Grab your shades

Too much fun in the sun can harm your eyes in the summer—and it can do just as much damage in the winter. An excess of reflected sunlight over time may lead to vision loss and other degenerative eye conditions, such as glaucoma. But protecting your eyes is easy: next time you’re headed out the door for your group walk, remember your sunglasses. Here’s how you can find the right pair of sunglasses for you.

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